Month: April 2022

God’s Planned Future (8) Bowl Judgements – Armageddon

John begins Revelation chapter 15 by saying in verse 1, then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.

But, before John explains the pouring out of these 7 final judgements in chapter 16, he enlightens about an activity in heaven during this time of God’s wrath upon the earth.

Again, John’s attention is taken by this large sea of glass mingled with fire in verse 2, which is the same sea spoken of in chapter 4:6. This crystal-like sea lays before God’s throne where there is continual worship. However, this time, John can’t help but notice a specific group of people standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands (Rev 15:2b). John tells us precisely who these people are, they are those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name (15:2a).

John spoke of these people in Revelation 6:9, when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. Again, John tells of these people in chapter 14:13, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them!”  These people put faith in Jesus Christ following the rapture of the church and have been executed under the authority of antichrist during the tribulation.

Upon arriving in heaven, they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been (Rev 6:11). These martyred Christians, both Jew and Gentile, rise from the earth to heaven during the 7 years of tribulation to join the worship of God while God’s wrath is poured out upon the earth. Here, we see God’s great mercy during the tribulation. God has sovereignly predetermined the number of their fellow servants who will be saved throughout the entire 7 year tribulation. And the salvation of sinners will continue right to the end, when Jesus returns in chapter 19, when that number will be complete. The reality though, is that most who put faith in Christ during the tribulation will be killed for their faith.

In Revelation 20:4 John provides more information of these martyred believers. John says, …also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands…

Antichrist will globally legalise the death penalty for all Christians during the tribulation. To say money and to conserve military resources, antichrist will authorise beheading as the preferred method of execution.

Ironically, the torment antichrist hopes to inflict on believers through beheading will only serve to release them from the torment of this world. Beheaded saints will immediately appear in heaven with great reward waiting for them. John tells of the wonderful scene in heaven, where these martyred saints sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
                “Great and amazing are your deeds,
                O Lord God the Almighty!
                Just and true are your ways,
                O King of the nations!
                Who will not fear, O Lord,
                and glorify your name?
                For you alone are holy.
                All nations will come and worship you,
                for your righteous acts have been revealed”
                (Rev 15:3-4).
These precious, redeemed people, rescued out of the very wrath of God, will sing these words with a purity of worship and unique insights of the glory of God with fresh and vibrant passion. Heaven will echo the rejoicing wonders of God’s mercy triumphing over judgement (Jas 2:13).

While jubilant worship is resounding in heaven out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever (Rev 15:6-7). Judgement must continue until it is complete.

What a fearful sight, as one of the four living creatures hands out to each of these 7 angels a bowl containing the final and full manifestation of God’s wrath to be poured out upon the world. It’s not surprising that John observed that the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished (Rev 15:8). God is unapproachable for this final rapid-fire sequence. Divine determination will see that His wrath is completed. There will be no short cuts, no half measures, and no negotiations. The end is near, all heaven knows it, yet the rebellious world continues in their defiant warring against God and His people.

Revelation 16:1, then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.
John again picks up the Revelation timeline from the 7th trumpet of chapter 11:15. When trumpet 7 sounds, the 7 bowls of God’s wrath open. With the ongoing effects of the previous seal and trumpet judgements, it’s difficult to imagine the horrors seizing the remaining world population. As this is nearing the end of the 7 years of tribulation, these bowls open quickly, dumping God’s final wrath upon the rebellious world with accumulative effects.

Bowl 1: Rev 16:2 – angel number 1 pours out his bowl, and painful malignant sores of an ulcer type break out on every person who has the mark of the beast (666). Not one person on the planet who worships antichrist will escape these terrible festering and incurable sores. These sores will most likely infect the blood system causing debilitating physical and mental health problems.

Bowl 2: Rev 16:3 – angel number 2 pours out his bowl, and the entire sea turns to blood with every living thing in it dying. Every remaining life form that exists in the oceans around the world dies. It’s hard to imagine the incalculable number of decomposing creatures throughout the world’s oceans. The waters will thicken into a coagulation of rotting flesh as bacteria breads diseases while the air will become nauseating to breath.

The remaining food supply that survived the second trumpet judgement upon the sea will abruptly die. Many of the shipping ways will be severely cluttered with rotting bodies, unable to be navigated. Desalination plants which many countries depend upon for converting salt water to fresh water for drinking, will be incapacitated and rendered useless. Oceanic hydro electricity generation plants will not be able to operate in the thick sludge which will no longer flow in normal tidal currents. Similarly, industry’s sea water cooling systems will no longer work, bringing factories to a standstill.

Bowl 3: Rev 16:4 – angel number 3 pours out his bowl, and all remaining freshwater from rivers and springs turn to blood. This removes all natural sources of fresh drinking water. No freshwater irrigation for crops will exit. Many humans and animals will die of thirst and malnutrition.

Bowl 4: Rev 16:8 – angel number 4 pours out his bowl upon the sun which produces such intense heat upon the earth that it scorches people and there is no relief. Instead of the sun sustaining life on earth, it becomes a killer. Solar flares, which will be totally outside of man’s control, will burn people’s skin severely from only minimal exposure to sunlight. Remember, these people will already be suffering from pussy sores and dehydration. What little remains of public medical services will be overwhelmed by burn casualties.

Because of increased atmospheric temperatures, the polar ice caps, global ice glaciers, and the worldwide ice and snow will melt. Sea levels will rise, not because of the polar ice melting, but because of the glacier and snow melting. The result will be massive flooding with enormous volumes of water rushing over sun parched land. Landslides will be common. Low lying islands will be submersed. Damage to natural resources and property, not to mention the loss of life through drowning, will be catastrophic.

Bowl 5: Rev 16:10 – angel number 5 poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness.
The 5th angel releases a bowl of darkness that effects the physical, political, and religious aspects of antichrist’s kingdom. With light now darkened, the result will be anarchy throughout his earthly kingdom. The angel does not only darken the atmospheric light through this bowl, but the throne of antichrist.

Therefore, the darkening effects of this judgement flows down from the beast throughout his entire kingdom. Due to diminished visibility and mental alertness, accidents of all kinds will greatly increase. Antichrist’s people are covered in festering sores, they are hungry and thirsty, they are demoralised, yet they are driven by blind hatred of God. Errors from minor to major will be commonplace. As a result of the increased suffering from anarchy, people gnawed (chewed) their tongues in anguish due to the accumulative physical, mental, and spiritual suffering experienced.

Yet, in spite of the extremity of suffering, people cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores because they understand this is the judgement of Almighty God. Not surprising then, burning with blind hatred towards God, they did not repent of their deeds.

Bowl 6: Rev 16:12 – angel number 6 pours out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east.
With the river Euphrates being the longest river of the middle-east, it is significant because it divides nations. When it dries up, it not only leaves the land more parched from the lack of irrigation, but it leaves vast areas of rotting river creatures and vegetation. With Euphrates gone, this creates a dry pathway for a large eastern military force to transport themselves in a direct line towards Jerusalem.

At present, the largest and most powerful nation to the east is China and her neighbouring nations. However, the world’s political system and the division of nations will look very different by the time bowl number 6 arrives. Having the great river Euphrates gone will be necessary for the eastern armies to reach their ultimate destination of Armageddon for the final battle of mankind.

John continues to explain in Revelation 16:13-14, I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon (Satan) and out of the mouth of the beast (antichrist) and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.

Here, John sees the unholy satanic trinity unleash 3 powerful froglike demons who frantically rush out on a final worldwide mission of deception. Focusing their deceptive powers, they perform miraculous signs before the leaders of the nations, they stop at nothing to seduce the shattered nations into united military submission. From the ashes of the eastern nations a diseased and bedraggled army, reinforced by the kings of the whole world (Rev 16:14) including the northern allies, arrive at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon (Rev 16:16) for battle on the great day of God the Almighty (Rev 16:14). Revelation 17:12-14 tells us that this confederation will consist of 10 nations united in war against the Lamb (Jesus Christ) and Israel (cf. Joel 3:2, 9-13). This will be the battle of Gog and Magog described in Ezekiel 38-39. Gog is the name of the ruler who is over the northern federation of nations called Magog. Presently, we know the northern nations as the Russian federation of nations. But, as with China, the names and identities of these may change during the tribulation.

Armageddon, Megiddo (Jezreel Valley or Har-Magedon), depending on the translation, is a place rich in battle history for Israel (Judges 5:19; 2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:22). Located in the Northern District of Israel, about 100Km north of Jerusalem, it is a large plain with an inland valley that was called the Valley of Megiddo in ancient times.

The broken down armies of the world, covered in sores and severely sunburnt, set themselves up ready for battle. Much of their technology and artillery has been destroyed already by the previous judgements of God. However, they are determined to fight, but they must wait because the one they have come to war against (The Lamb, Jesus Christ) has not arrived yet.

Meanwhile, other smaller, localised battles will happen in the area of Jerusalem as antichrist tries to destroy everything associated with Israel (Zec 14:1-3). His effort will fail for two reasons. First, God has been hiding and protecting a 1/3 remnant of Israel in the wilderness (Zec 13:8-9; Rev 12:6-16). Second, when Christ arrives on the scene, He will conquer all armies in one final, brief, and victorious battle where there will be no actual fighting.

So, while the world waits at Armageddon, the 7th angel pours out bowl judgement number 7 into the air.

Bowl 7:
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city (Jerusalem) split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible (Rev 16:17-21).

This 7th and final bowl judgement is by far the worst and most concentrated judgement this world has experienced in its entire history. With the completion of bowl 7 judgement, the wrath of God is finished (Rev 15:1). Immediately following the outpouring of bowl 7, Jesus Christ returns to wrap it all up with sovereign justice and Kingship.

The catastrophic events of this bowl are breathtaking:

  • Flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder
  • A severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth
  • The great city (Jerusalem) splits into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed
  • Every island fled away
  • The mountains could not be found
  • From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds (45Kg) each fell upon men

This final storm exceeds all other forces of nature. The atmosphere unleashes every kind of disaster possible. The planet convulses with earthquakes so severe that mountains collapse, and islands, which are underwater mountains, also collapse and disappear from the oceans. The planet’s tectonic plates move as never before to completely change the surface of the earth.

The ground beneath the great city, which according to Revelation 11:8 is Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified, opens to divide the city into three. All other cities around the world collapse into piles of rubble. Jerusalem is the ONLY city left standing on what will be a raise area of land. The surface of the earth is restructured from being mountainous to being a gentle and undulating landscape.

John MacArthur adds…
The Mount of Olives will split in two, and a new valley running east and west will be created (Zech. 14:4). A spring of water will flow year-round from Jerusalem to the Mediterranean and Dead Seas (Zech. 14:8), causing the desert to blossom like a rose (cf. Isa. 35:1). Jerusalem will be elevated, and the surrounding region flattened into a plain (Zech. 14:10). Thus, the purpose of the earthquake as it relates to Jerusalem is not to judge the city, but to enhance it.
(John MacArthur Revelation Commentary, Rev 16:19).

The remaining people marked with antichrist’s 666 will suffer horrendous injures from huge hailstones targeting them. As seen repeatedly throughout the tribulation, antichrist’s beaten followers curse God.

Again, John pauses the chronological flow of Revelation narrative to add more information about what has been happening leading up to the final Armageddon event. This is Interlude # 4, which shall be covered in more detail in another lesson.

But for now, we move to Revelation 19, where John steps back into the chronological time-line of Revelation. The pouring out of the seventh bowl in Revelation 16:17-21, is followed immediately by the Lord Jesus Christ returning to earth (Rev 19:11) to end the tribulation. Christ deals with the shaken, angry armies waiting for Him at Armageddon (Rev 16:16). He destroys the enemies surrounding Jerusalem. And He brings all remaining, living people into the sheep and goat judgement.

The Day King Jesus Returns
The scene is set. Antichrist’s largest army is waiting to do war at Armageddon. Jerusalem is surrounded by smaller armies determined to destroy it once and for all. The remaining people marked with 666, including all those in the armies, are covered in sores, sunburnt, hungry, and thirsty, yet driven by fierce demonic hatred of Christ.

The 1/3 remnant of Israel remains safe in hiding. The 144,000 Jewish witnesses also remain safe and untouched by antichrist. There will also be some believers in Jesus who have not been martyred. Likewise, there will most likely be a tiny number of politically motivated nonbelievers who have been resisting antichrist and have not taken the mark of the beast for personal reasons only.

Antichrist (the beast), has gathered with a 10 nation army from around the world, waiting for battle with their enemy. The kings of 10 nations, unitedly transfer their power and authority to the beast (Rev 17:13-14, 17) for the purpose of antichrist commanding the world’s united resources for making war against the Lamb of God. But they shall fail.

While antichrist is negotiating his political and military strategy for the battle of Armageddon, John sees an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God” (Rev 19:17. cf. Mt 24:28; Lk 17:37). The angel invites the birds for what is about to require a massive clean-up job before the battle even takes place.  Ezekiel spoke of the birds in preparation for this day also, speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field: ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you… you shall eat flesh and drink blood… (Eze 39:17-20. Cf. Mat 24:27-28; Luk 17:37).

The world is momentarily on standstill, waiting for Christ.

Then it happens!

John reports, I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war (Rev 19:11). As John watches, a portal between heaven and earth opens, but this time it’s not for John to see into heaven as before, but to let Jesus out of heaven. This is the glorious appearing Jesus’ foretold in Matthew 24:27; as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

As Jesus launches out of heaven, catapulting into earth’s atmosphere riding His victor’s white horse, His eyes are like a flame of fire (Rev 19:12). His glorious brilliance is awe inspiring, lighting up the darkened skies from bowl 5 (Rev 16:10. From east to west, around the entire world, Christ’s glory will illuminate the skies. His entrance marks the initiation of fulfilling Daniel 7:13-14, …behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man… to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him…  and his kingdom …shall not be destroyed.

Similarly, Job foresaw Israel’s redeemer physically return to earth; “at the last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25). The writer of Hebrews explains how from the time that Jesus sat down at the right hand of His Father in Heaven, He has been “waiting …until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet” (Hebrews 10:13). The prophet Malachi warned; “who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” (Malachi 3:2).

The King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16b) has arrived,  coming to tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty (Rev 19:15). His appearing shall be as described in Matthew 24:30, then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Jesus enters as the rider of the white horse, called faithful and true, wearing on His head many diadems, which are badges or crowns of sovereign rulership (Rev 19:11-12). He arrives with the intent to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron… (Rev 19:15). The Rider has only one weapon, which from his mouth comes a sharp sword. Christ’s powerful spoken word is the only weapon needed to conquer His enemies.

John sees that Christ is clothed in a robe dipped in blood (Rev 19:13). The question arises; why is the rider’s robe blood red before the battle begins? Because, this is not His first battle, but it will be His last! Shortly, the blood stains shall increase as He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty (Rev 19:15). The rider on His white horse is an unstoppable movement of God’s justice.

John also sees in Revelation 19:14, that the armies of heaven …were following him on white horses. Who are the armies of heaven? John speaks of them in the plural, meaning there are more than one group of members in Christ’s accompanying armies. Revelation 19:14, and the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.

  • Christ’s Bride, Rev 19:7-8, His Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.
  • Angels, Mt 25:31, when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.

It needs be noted, that none in the armies of heaven carry weapons, that’s because Jesus Christ is the weapon. Christ alone is sufficient to conquer and establish His earthly Kingdom.

Entering the war zone, Christ uses the lethal Sword of His mouth, His spoken word, speaking destruction upon those gathered at Armageddon to make war against Him. Revelation 19:15, from his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations… He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

The imagery of God’s wrath comes from the ancient practice of stomping on grapes to extract the juice for making wine. As they stomped on the grapes the juice would splatter onto their cloths. In Isaiah 63:1-3 and Joel 3:12-14, the same imagery is used to warn of God working out His judgement upon God haters. It’s used here by John to describe Christ stomping out God’s wrath against a world of God haters. But this time, Christ delivers the wrath verbally upon their enemies, bringing instant mass death. The immediate slaughter of millions is a bloody event. His enemies do not simply collapse dead. When Christ administers His vengeance, it results in a vast area of human carnage that produces a blood bath upon the earth. Interlude # 1 of Revelation 14:20 visualises the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia (approx. 300Km). The physical devastation caused by Christ on His enemies at Armageddon and the armies surrounding Jerusalem produces such an enormous volume of blood that the earth will not be able to immediately soak it in.

The prophet Zechariah foresaw this day of the Lord. The Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that Day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall Be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God Will come, and all the holy ones with him (Zec 14:3-5). And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their Tongues will rot in their mouths (Zec 14:12).

This will not involve atomic warfare. Rather, this is the power of the Lord Jesus Christ speaking judgment on His enemies. Not one of His enemies will escape. The scene of divine justice is grotesque, it is swift, it is unrelenting, and it is inescapable.

With such horrendous devastation over such a large geographical area, the divinely appointed birds swoop in to begin the clean up job. As we shall learn in the next lesson, the job is too big for the birds.

In the execution of Christ’s justice upon the armies who came against Him, the beast (antichrist) was captured, and with it the false prophet (the 2nd beast) who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur (Rev 19:20). Resistance is futile!

Revelation 20:1-3 concludes this eventful day. Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended.

Immediately following this comes the sheep and goat judgement that Christ explained in Matthew 25:31-46. When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Mat 25:31-32). We shall consider this in lesson 10 of this series.

Christ – the greatest treasure – Part 2

When Christ resurrected and then ascended, the Father seated Him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church (Ephesians 1:20-22). This answers the question; why do Christian’s emphasis Jesus so much? Because He is supreme over all others and beyond compare in every way. Therefore, it is the Christian’s pleasure to explore Christ’s being, His character, His position, His purposes, His works, and His reign.
Making much of Christ is as natural to a believer as breathing. We seek to glorify Christ not because we must, not because we have been instructed to, and certainly not because we have been coerced, but because we desire to. This desire compels the Christian to employ all they have; their intellects, their abilities, skills, energies, gifts, and their possessions, in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:11). A believer should never need to be instructed to consider Jesus (Heb 3:1), they can’t help but think of Jesus because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus (Php 3:8).

Just as Christ is superior to angels (Heb 1:4), so He is also superior to mankind, even though He came to this world in the form of a humble human servant (Php 2:6-8). God temporarily placed Jesus in a position lower than the angels (Heb 2:7) for the purpose of going to the cross. There, Jesus willingly suffered execution so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone, making propitiation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:9, 17). It is through Christ’s death in our place that He was able to appease God’s wrath for our sin, making peace with God possible (Romans 5:1). By believing this, sinners are justified and declared innocent by God. Therefore, God has elevated Christ to the highest place, having crowned him with glory and honour, putting everything in subjection under his feet (Hebrews 2:7-8).

Even though Christ is exalted above everything and everyone in heaven and on earth, He is still able to sympathize with our weaknesses, as one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Christ lives as our high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens, interceding for those He sacrificed His life for (Hebrews 7:25-26). It’s no wonder then, that though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).

So, when considering Christian living, it goes without saying that the obvious evidence of faith is the happy pursuit of Christlike character expressed through actions. Christians are not those who profess to know God but deny him by their works (Titus 1:16). Believers welcome the world’s observation as an opportunity to give testimony to Jesus through their lives. Conduct that communicates Christ should never be considered a burden, rather, it is the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s fruit that the Lord Jesus Christ lives within (Galatians 5:22-23).

With these brief thoughts in our minds, we can agree with Paul in his closing benediction of Romans 16:27, to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

To be continued…

God’s Planned Future (7) Trumpet Judgements and Interlude 3


As John moves forward through the Revelation, he has passed the 3 ½ year, half time point, of the 7 year tribulation. Antichrist has established world dominance; and he has committed the abomination of desolation where he entered the temple in Jerusalem and stopped the Jewish sacrifices. He has also set up an image of himself to be worshipped as God in the temple, fulfilling Daniel 11:36-37. This triggered the 2nd half of the 7 year tribulation, which Jesus calls the great tribulation (Mat 24:21). War, famine, catastrophic death, martyrdom of those coming to faith in Christ, and global anarchy have become the new normal for planet earth during the birth pains of God’s judgement.

Seal 7     Revelation 8:1
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
The Seventh Seal consists of a further set of seven Trumpet judgments. As Jesus opens seal number 7, it reveals the first trumpet judgement. Abruptly, heaven comes to a standstill as they watch the horror of the promised Day of the Lord. Isaiah prophesied of this time; behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless (Isaiah 13:9-11).

The defiant world will scoff at God, they will put their hope in antichrist who shall continually offer peace but never deliver it. Peter speaks of this time during the tribulation in 2 Peter 3:9-10; the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise (of judgement) as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

As the seventh seal reveals the day of the Lord in Revelation 8:1-5, the judgements which are about to take place are so alarming that even the angelic hosts stop silent for half an hour. All heaven is mute and dumbfounded. Every mighty angelic being, the four living creatures, the Cherubim, the Seraphim, the 24 elders, all are stunned into silence. This is the only time we read of this in Scripture, when heaven stops worship for an entire 30 minutes.

The scene is graphic; standing before God are 7 angels, given 7 trumpets for the purpose of announcing more intensifying judgements (Rev 8:2). Then an 8th angel steps up to the alter before God with much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne (Rev 8:3). Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake (Rev 8:5).

Apart from the obvious scene here, we get a glimpse of the timeless value of prayer. When we presently pray, we have an impact not only on the ‘now’ but also on the future. This 8th angel presents to God much incense of worship accompanied by the prayers of all the saints. Somehow God collects and stores up the prayers of His saints waiting for a future response which can only happen with the 7 trumpet judgements.

Trumpets 1 – 4            (Revelation 8:7-12)
Trumpets one, two, three, and four are sounded in rapid succession as there are numerous remaining judgements waiting to be unleashed in less than a 3 year period.

The 1st trumpet releases thunder and lighting, an earthquake, hail, and fire mixed with blood are hurled upon the earth. One third of the remaining earth is burnt up. With that comes a chain reaction – vegetation dies, therefore animals die, and more of the world’s food chain abruptly comes to an end (:7).

The 2nd trumpet of verse 8 tells of releasing what could easily be a series of small meteorites crashing down from the heavens into the sea. One third of the sea is transformed into blood, and one third of the world’s shipping and commerce are destroyed.

The smell of decomposing carcases in oceans and washed up on beaches will be vile. Breathing the air will be disgusting due to the stench of death from 1/3 of all living creatures in the sea (:8-9). With 1/3 of the shipping gone, global supply of goods including food and military supplies will suffer greatly.

The 3rd trumpet of verse 10 sees the releasing of what seems to be a single huge ball of heavenly fire, a massive meteorite of some description, falling upon the earth in such a way as to impact one third of the world’s rivers and springs of fresh water.

Revelation 8:11 describes this falling heavenly body, the name of the star is Wormwood (bitterness). A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter. With the contamination of such a large percentage of drinking water, many more will die of poisoning. Similarly, the death of freshwater fish and other creatures will further rob mankind of food. Again, the smell of tens of millions of rotting fish will be overwhelming.

The 4th trumpet of verse 12 tells of the releasing of some kind of divine plague upon the heavenly bodies. One third of the sun, moon, and stars are darkened, causing a huge reduction in both daylight and nightlight. This will continue the devastating effect upon plant growth, and therefore food supplies will fail even more as much needed crops fail. Temperatures will drop dramatically. Extreme weather patterns will globally behave abruptly and unpredictably.

Apart from anything else, this will create issues from Vitamin D deficiency and insufficient melatonin levels, causing sleep deprivation amongst other mental health problems. On top of this, the 24 hour lunar cycle will be disrupted greatly. And on that day, declares the Lord GOD, I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. 10 I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation… (Amos 8:9-10).

These events will not simply be random natural disasters. They will be God’s judgements, and it will be obvious by the fact that through each of the 4 trumpet blasts, one third are impacted. One third of the earth and the trees burned up (:7), one third of the sea turned to blood (:8), one third of the sea creatures killed and one third of ships destroyed (:9), and one third of the sun, moon, and star are blackened (:12).

Revelation 8:13, then I (John) looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

Things are about to get a lot worse. “Woe, woe, woe”, is another way of saying “Damned, damned, damned!” The triple “Woe” expresses an exclamation of grief with increasing intensity upon the world. These next 3 trumpet judgments are 3 additional “Woe” judgements to those who dwell on the earth, again emphasising the severity of them upon the unbelieving and unrepentant world.

Trumpet 5 – Woe 1     Revelation 9:1-11
And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw
a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit (Rev 9:1).

At the fifth trumpet a star falls to earth. The “he” refers to the “star” which is not a lifeless object like a rock. Rather, this is speaking of an angelic being as described in Job 38:7, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? This male star seems to indicate Lucifer. Satan (Isa 14:12-15; Eze 28:12-16) will be the one God employs to open the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft (Rev 9:2). As Satan opens the gates of the shaft leading to the bottomless pit, dense polluting smoke bellows into the atmosphere darkening the sun. Atmospheric pollution erupting from the hellish bottomless pit as never seen before will engulf the planet.

Satan, under God’s authority, will then release a huge number of demons from the bottomless pit who have been bound there for most likely millennia. Revelation chapter 9 shall be fulfilment of Joel 2:1-11. Revelation 9:7-10 describe these creatures. In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, 8 their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; 9 they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. 10 They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails.

These fearsome demonic locusts from the bottomless pit are given power to torture mankind for five months (:5). They will be forbidden to damage the vegetation. Their entire focus will be on tormenting mankind, causing intense pain like the sting of a Scorpion (:3) for the entire five months. But they will not be able to kill.

Only those believers with the seal of God will be spared. These protected ones will include the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Rev 7:1-8), plus those who have repented and put faith in Christ.

The agony these demonic locusts cause will be so intense that people will seek death during those days but will not find it because God will not permit them to die (:6). Consequently, stung people will also suffer the pain from injuries from attempted suicide that fail.

This demonic army will have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon (Rev 9:11). This is not Satan, but a high ranking demon in Satan’s army, as this king of demons is of the bottomless pit. He was released from the bottomless pit along with the demonic locusts. Plus, it was Satan who was authorised by God to open the bottomless pit from the outside.

Having described trumpet 5, which is the 1st woe, John declares that the first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come (Rev 9:12).

Trumpet 6 – Woe 2     Revelation 9:13-19
Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind (Rev 9:13-15).

The sixth trumpet sounds, and the sixth angel is instructed to release four angelic demons who had been held captive in preparation by God for this exact time. The fact that these 4 angels have been bound for this precise time tells us that they are not holy angels, but demons. God had sovereignly prepared these 4 demons for the purpose of killing one third of mankind in this 6th trumpet, 2nd woe, judgement.

These 4 demons gather an enormous army of mounted troops (Two hundred million), which carry out the mass slaughter of billions of people. In Revelation 9:17-19, John attempts to describe this great army. And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the colour of fire and of sapphire and of sulphur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulphur came out of their mouths. 18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulphur coming out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.

This army will march across the planet ruthlessly slaughtering everyone in their path. This demon motivated army will kill without mercy and without discrimination. John’s language also suggests the possibility of advanced weapon technology being used by this army.

Despite the huge number of deaths, the surviving population still refuse to repent of their idolatry, murders, witchcraft, and sexual immorality (Rev 9:20-21).

This concludes trumpet 6 and woe 2 judgements.

Interlude # 2
At this point in the Revelation, John pauses his timeline narrative to give us Interlude # 2. Throughout Revelation 10:1-11:14, John looks back and provides us with greater detail of what has been happening so far.

Revelation 10:1 introduces us to another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire.

As always in Scripture, this angel is male, and he is another angel of the same kind as the 6th angel who blew the 6th trumpet (Rev 9:13). This angel is NOT Jesus Christ, as Jesus remains unseen until Revelation 19:7.

In the heavenly ranking of angels, this was a mighty ranking angel. The Greek word for mighty suggests that he is forcibly powerful and valiant (Courageous). Verses 1 and 2 tell us that the appearance of this courageous angel is huge and fearsome. He not just big, he is huge! He didn’t simply stand in the sand with 1 foot in the water and the other in the wet sand. No, he stood with one foot in the surf and the other on the dry sandhills – he is massive in stature. His face shines brilliantly bright like the sun and his commanding voice is exceedingly loud like that of a lion roaring.

As he travels from heaven to earth, entering earth’s atmosphere he wraps cloud around himself as if it were a cloak. He adorns his head with a rainbow as if it were a hat, and his mighty legs appear like pillars of blazing fire. This holy angel is extraordinary, he’s unparalleled in God’s arsenal of heavenly beings.

What’s more, this mighty angel held a little scroll open in his hand (Rev 10:2a). In context, this little scroll is a miniature extract of the 7th trumpet judgement which is about to take place, and it is to be eaten by John. The little scroll was already open and is small enough that John takes it and eats it (Rev 10:9-10). This scroll would have looked tiny in the hand of such a mighty angel, and it tasted sweet in John’s mouth yet turned his stomach bitter upon swallowing.

When this mighty angel roars out his lion-like call, there follows the sound of 7 thunders in response (Rev 10:3-4). These 7 thunders are not angels, yet they are more that unintelligent sound waves reverberating through the clouds. They are intelligent, disembodied beings manifesting as thunder. They respond to the mighty angel with thunderous intelligent words. Their speech intelligently communicates understandable truth which John intended to write down, but the voice from heaven stopped him writing the words of the thunders (Rev 10:4b).

In Revelation 11:1-2 John measures the temple in Jerusalem which will be overrun by Gentile rebels for 42 months, 3 ½ years, which is the 2nd half of the tribulation which was triggered by antichrist. Jerusalem is hijacked for the remaining 3 ½ years by Gentile insurgents.

But, by contrast, we also see God’s evangelistic grace at work at the same time. As covered in lesson 6, 1st were the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, who are protected by God and continue evangelising. 2nd as seen in Revelation 11:1-12, are the 2 witnesses of God. Their prophetic ministry lasts 3 ½ years also. While it’s possible that their time may begin in the 1st half of the tribulation and span through into the 2nd half, it is more likely to be wholly in the 2nd half of the tribulation. It is quite possible that God sends His 2 witnesses to earth at the time antichrist commits the abomination of desolation.

As antichrist proudly declares himself to be god (Dan 11:37), these 2 witnesses of Yahweh shall boldly counter his false claims by declaring the truth. Until the end of their 3 ½ years of ministry, antichrist will not be able to silence these 2 witnesses. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire (Rev 11:5-6).

Towards the end of the 2 witnesses ministry time, Revelation 11:7-13 tells us that the beast (antichrist) will war against them and finally kill them. While their bodies lay dead in a street of Jerusalem, the world celebrates their deaths by exchanging gifts.

Revelation 11:11-13 further explains the extraordinary events that conclude the ministry of these 2 witnesses on earth. But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13 And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

As God calls His 2 resurrected witnesses’ home to heaven, while rising in a cloud, they are being watched by their enemies. In the same hour there’s a massive earthquake in Jerusalem with 1/10 of the city destroyed and 7000 people killed. The survivors of the earthquake are terrified and “gave glory to the God of heaven.” This phrase is not a reference to people’s salvation or even worship. Rather, they shall acknowledge the God of Heaven as the author and cause of the 2 witnesses’ resurrection, ascension, and the devastating earthquake.

John concludes this 2nd Interlude of explanation with the words, the second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come (Rev 11:14).

Trumpet 7 – Woe 3     Revelation 11:15-18
In Revelation 11:15, John saw that the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 
This is the initiation of the final stage of God making the kingdom of the world to be the kingdom of His Son Jesus Christ.

At this time heaven rejoices in worship (11:16-17) as they hear the 7th trumpet blast, opening of the final 7 bowls of God’s wrath which is about to be poured out upon the wicked world. It should be noted also that this 3rd and final “Woe” continues through to the very end of the tribulation when Christ returns to vanquish His enemies in chapter 19.

These final days and months of demonic and human rebellion upon the earth will see the worst wickedness ever seen unfolding upon the earth. John records that the nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth (Rev 11:18). Full and final divine justice is about to be unleashed through a rapid pouring out of 7 bowls of God’s wrath.

This concludes trumpet 7, but not woe 3 judgements.
At this point in the Revelation, John pauses again in his timeline narrative to present Interlude # 3 from Revelation 11:19-14:20. Following this 3rd Interlude, the 7 bowl judgements shall be administered.

Interlude # 3          (Revelation 11:19-14:20)
As John considers all that he is witnessing, he sees considerable information about the events during this 2nd 3 ½ year part of the 7 year tribulation which he now updates us on. John not only looks backwards for more detail but also includes a clearer glimpse of what lays ahead.

Satan (the dragon), the Beast (antichrist), the False Prophet (the 2nd beast), and the image of the beast exercise the limits of authority permitted to them by God.

Revelation 12:1-6 gives a snapshot of Jewish messianic history spanning from the birth of Jesus to the half-time point of the tribulation. John sees Satan’s desire to concur Christ from past to future.

Summarising Revelation 12:1-6, John sees a woman (Israel) clothed with the sun, …on her head a crown of twelve stars (the 12 tribes of Israel). She (Israel) was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon (Satan), with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His (Satan’s) tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven (fallen angels) and cast them to the earth. And the dragon (Satan) stood before the woman (Mary) who was about to give birth, so that when she (Mary) bore her child (Jesus) he (Satan) might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child (baby Jesus), one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne (Jesus’ ascension), 6 and the woman (Israel) fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. This leaves Israel hidden from Satan and provided for by God for the last 3 ½ years of the tribulation, somewhere in a secret desert place.

In Revelation 12:7-9 John also sees that at some point during the tribulation, war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon (Satan) and his angels fought back, 8 but he (Satan) was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. This war in heaven marks the final time when Satan and his demons would every be permitted into heaven by God’s invitation. This also tells of the final time when God permits His holy angels to do battle with evil fallen angels.

John then hears a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers (Satan) has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God (Rev 12:10). Never again will Satan have access to God to accuse God’s people.

In fact, Satan will never look upon God or Christ again in heaven. At the end of the tribulation, John sees an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him… (Rev 20:1-3a).

Then, following Satan’s release after 1000 years he gathers the unbelievers in the Kingdom for one last attempt to dethrone Jesus as King. Failing terribly, fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev 20:9-10).

Back to Revelation 12:13, when the dragon (Satan) saw that he had been thrown down to the earth (during the tribulation), he pursued the woman (Israel) who had given birth to the male child. Particularly during the 2nd half of the tribulation, Satan viciously hunts down any and all Jewish people to destroy them (cf. Mat 24:15-22). But the woman (Israel) was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time (Rev 12:14). John pictures God’s rescue of Israel as powerful and swift, swooping desperate Israel away from Satan and antichrist’s destructive forces into safety. The specific means used by God for this rescue mission are speculation on our part, and we should be careful not to read our understanding of the two wings of the great eagle into the context of Revelation.

Satan, realising his defeat, becomes furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus… (Rev 12:17). Writhing with fury, Satan turns his attention to hunting down any and all in the world who have responded to the evangelistic messages of the 144,000 Jewish men, the 2 witnesses, and the 3 fly angles. Anyone who is found to have obedient faith in Christ is now his target more than ever before.

By this time in the tribulation, antichrist will be demonically energised as we read in Revelation 13:2-4.   And to the beast (antichrist) …the dragon (Satan) gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast (antichrist). 4 And they worshiped the dragon (Satan), for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” The world is drunk with Satan’s delusion of antichrist. Blindly following antichrist, the world worships Satan.

In his endeavour to appear to be divine, and attempting to at least appear as powerful as Jesus, Satan enables antichrist to play out a fake resurrection. Antichrist seems to receive a mortal wound (death), but its mortal wound (death) was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast (Rev 13:3). The unbelieving world is so victimized by Satan and his antichrist that they worshiped the dragon (Satan), for he had given his authority to the beast (antichrist), and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” (Rev 13:4). This fake death and resurrection of antichrist (Rev 13:12) successfully deceives the world into absolute and total idolatry of the worst kind. Thinking that antichrist is their saviour, and thinking that he is invincible, they happily surrender their souls to him.

John progresses in Revelation 13 to show the establishment of Satan’s unholy trinity. Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived (Rev 13:11-14).

This 2nd beast, who is also called the false prophet in Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10, has a lovely nature. He seems soft and comforting like a lamb to seduce the nations into submission to antichrist. He speaks like the dragon (Satan) and has all the authority of the antichrist (the 1st beast) but speaks in tender and comforting tones. This 2nd beast (false prophet) also does miraculous signs and wonders in the actual presence of antichrist.

Revelation 13:15, and it (the 2nd beast) was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.

The 2nd beast (false prophet) is permitted to somehow breath what appears to be life into the image of the 1st beast, allowing it to speak. With modern technology, it is possible that this image of the beast is a hologram. But it’s more likely I think, to be a robotic android with artificial intelligence (AI). This would give antichrist instant access via satellite internet connectivity through the image to control global politics, global banking, global military, global police, global education, and global religion. Through wireless connection to the image of the beast, the 2nd beast (false prophet) will be able to order the death penalty on anyone worldwide who is found not to worship the image of the beast (antichrist). Further evidence that the image of the beast cannot be human or angelic, is that it is not cast into the lake of fire. John explains that when Christ returns and conquers His enemies, the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet… These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur (Rev 19:20). But the image of the beast cannot be cast into the lake of fire because it is not a living being.

Now that the satanic trinity is established (Satan, antichrist, and the false prophet), the false prophet (2nd beast) causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666 (Rev 13:16-18).

Antichrist demands absolute loyalty which he thinks he can get by forcing people to receive his 666 identifying mark on their bodies. Without his mark, people will not be legally permitted to buy and sell anything. We don’t know how this mark will be applied, except that it will be placed either on the right hand or the forehead. Many possibilities exist as to how he could do this; a tattoo, a laser burn, a tiny computer chip, we really don’t know. He may well use a method we don’t presently know of, but we do know that he will somehow impose his mark upon the unbelieving world.

While there is much present day speculation and fear associated with this mark, believers can rest assured that it does not exist now. God has ordained that antichrist’s 666 mark will only be taken by non-Christians after the following have taken place:

  • The rapture of the Church.
  • Antichrist must reveal himself to be god and rise to absolute world power.
  • Antichrist needs to have committed the abomination of desolation.
  • The 144,000 Jewish evangelists must be dispatched.
  • The 2 witnesses must be at work.
  • The 3 mighty witnessing angels must be traveling the world calling people to worship God.
  • The false prophet must be working publicly and imposing the death penalty for not worshipping antichrist.
  • The image of the beast must be active also.

Revelation 14:14 opens a new stage in John’s vison with the words, ‘Then I looked, and behold.’ As John draws near to closing his 3rd Interlude, he looks forward to the 7 Bowl judgements culminating with the events of Christ’s return in Revelation 19. Verses 14-20 continue to provide a graphic picture of coming judgement upon antichrist and the wicked world.

Revelation 14:14 reveals “One like a son of man,” majestically identifying Jesus Christ entering earth’s atmosphere riding a white cloud in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14 (cf. Rev 1:7; Mat 24:30; 26:64). Christ returns with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. He comes wearing a crown. In the Greek language this is the stephanos crown which is worn by a victor of war or athletics. This crown is the precious golden crown of ultimate triumph and victory over all who oppose Christ as Lord and King.

Christ returns holding a sharp sickle in his hand, showing that He comes on a mission to harvest. A sickle is a common tool used for cutting grain or grass stalks at ground level. It has a sharp, long, curved metal blade with a wooden handle, and is used in a sweeping action from side to side. Christ returns to earth victorious for the purpose of conquering his enemies by cutting them down just as a worker does to grain at harvest time.

John continues by using two agricultural metaphors. The first is the grain harvest (:14-16), which pictures the seven bowl judgments (Rev 16:1-14). Then the grape harvest (:17-20), which pictures the judgment of Armageddon (Rev 16:16; 19:19). Together, these 2 harvests portray the inescapable certainty of God’s coming judgment.

John then introduces us to 3 additional angels in verses 15-18 who will play their part in assisting Christ in the harvest judgements. These 3 angels bring the total number of angels in Revelation chapter 14 to 6 (:6, 8, 9).

Verse 15 sees the 4th angel coming out from the heavenly temple and calling loudly for Christ to swing His sickle and harvest the earth. Long ago, God the Father had appointed the authority of judgement to Christ (Jn 5:22, 27; Ac 10:42; 17:31). And this will be the time for that judgement to begin in full fury, starting with the grain harvest.

Verse 16 tells us that Christ swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped. This harvest is initiated in chapter 16:1, where the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” We shall consider this grain harvest in greater detail in the next lesson.

John then sees another angel, a 5th angel, which came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle (Rev 14:17), ready to reap a harvest of grapes from the earth. As we shall see, the grapes speak also of the world’s wicked people.

Following, was yet another angel who had authority over the fire (14:18). This 6th angel calls with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle (the 5th angel), “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe” (14:18). Consequently verses 19-20 tell of what happens when the 5th angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.

The grape harvest, like the grain harvest, reap from the earth the wicked who shall suffer the wrath of God in two stages. Those who somehow survive the grain harvest of the 7 bowls of God’s wrath, are swept up in the final grape harvest at Armageddon (Rev 16:16; 19:19). Inspired by Satan and lead by antichrist, the remaining armies of the world will gather to do war against Jesus Christ and Israel. This final confrontation takes place in a valley north of Jerusalem. We shall consider Armageddon in more detail when we come to Revelation chapters 16 and 19.

7 Bowls of God’s Wrath
We leave this lesson with John having completed Interlude # 3; he proceeds now to show us the next stage in Christ’s Revelation.
Revelation 15:1, then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.
Revelation 16:1, then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

Christ, the greatest treasure! – Part 1

The Bible rightly gives much attention to Jesus Christ. For although the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). As the revealer of truth, Jesus does what no one else could, He accurately makes God known to humanity (John 1:18). The exposure of God which comes through Jesus is unparalleled by anything or anyone in all creation. This is because Jesus Christ is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, it is right for Christians to proclaim the excellencies of Christ (1 Peter 2:9).

More than anything else, over the past two years we have learned how easy it is for God’s people to become completely distracted from Christ. With the many loud and passionate voices demanding prominence, we are to take care with one another not to speak or do things which could develop an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12). We, like the authors of Scripture, know how easy it is to become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:13) which leads our affections away from Christ. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end (Heb 3:14).

To refine and strengthen our faith we consider Jesus (Heb 3:1); giving our thoughts, our songs, our time, and our desires to knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul testified, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Philippians 3:8). Instead of allowing worldly thoughts and attitudes to dominate, we give ourselves to being transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom 12:2) to knowing Christ.

As those called to belong to Jesus Christ (Rom 1:6), we Christians elevate Christ to the highest place in our hearts and lives. We resonate with God’s testimony of Jesus, declaring; “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” (Hebrews 1:8-9). Jesus is qualified to reveal the Father to us because Jesus is one with the Father, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (Philippians 2:6). Only Jesus could truthfully say, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus, who is God over all, blessed forever (Romans 9:5), is the Sovereign we yield our affections to.

While God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world (Hebrews 1:1-2). In centering our thoughts on Jesus, we see that He is the source of our being, He is our creator. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life… (John 1:3-4). As the One who is life in himself (John 5:26), He speaks living creatures into being. All created things are the expression of Christ’s creative power and sovereign will.

May we be truly Christ centred, Christ focused in the routines of life. May the name of our Lord Jesus be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:12).

To be continued…

Easter – there’s only one!

As a nation, we celebrate Easter once every year. And at best, it’s an atheistic celebration. But as believers in Jesus Christ, we celebrate Easter every time we partake in communion. It’s our pleasure during Communion, and at Easter time, to proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). While thinking about this, my thoughts have been drawn into the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:23, the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was being betrayed took bread. There’s a great deal unfolding throughout these events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, as humanity abandons Christ the Messiah.

I’m sure most of the key players in the events of Easter thought they had it under control. Not realising the significance of what was playing out before them, they were all looking out for themselves, and dominated by self-interest.

  • The disciples, well, a dispute arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest (Luke 22:24). So, they didn’t notice the intensity of the Passover Jesus was leading or the predictions Jesus was making of His death.
  • The Pharisees only wanted to be rid of Jesus as He kept on publicly exposing their self-righteous scandals. Matthew 26:3-4 tells it plainly, the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.
  • Small-minded Judas thought he was going to make an easy 30 pieces of silver with minimal fuss (Mat 26:15), all he had to do was deliver Jesus to the chief priests and Romans.
  • Pilot was only interested in maintaining his political position over the Jews within the Roman government (Mk 15:15).
  • The Roman soldiers suffered their usual irritation from dealing with anything Jewish, let alone another blood thirsty crucifixion. Meanwhile Herod with his soldiers treated him (Jesus) with contempt and mocked him (Luke 23:11).
  • Murderous Barabbas must have been elated when Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas (Mark 15:15) in a political exchange for Jesus’ life.
  • The crowds, stirred on by the chief priests, shouted all the more, “Crucify him” (Mark 15:14).
  • The 2 criminals crucified either side of Jesus, hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” (Lk 23:33, 39). Initially, they only wanted rescuing from the death penalty. But then, one of them repented.

What a terrible mess humanity had made of this. But none of these selfish traits were true of Jesus! He was the ONLY ONE not consumed by self-preservation or self-advancement. Jesus’ primary interest was doing the will of His Father (Mat 26:42; Jn 6:38), which meant going to the Cross. Secondly, Jesus knew He was about to suffer on the Cross, once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). Therefore, Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8) becoming the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). Consequently, we believers have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). The victory of Jesus’ Cross is affirmed in that He has risen (Luke 24:6). Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).

In response to these Easter mercies of God, we present our bodies (lives) as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).

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