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Thursday, May 24 2012
Two weeks ago, we were taken through the teaching and lessons from the last two of the six seals in the Book of Revelation Chapter 6. Very apt and simple teaching it was. Amongst many other things, we were reminded of the need for us to make sacrifice for the cause of the Word and the testimony of our faith. The need for us to deny ourselves, make sacrifices and pay a worthy price for what we believe in was reiterated. In closing, we were encouraged not to compromise our bold confession of Christ Jesus and lifestyle of Holiness, and trust fully in His timing of events and judgement.
Today, as we continue in the study of the Book (by the help of the Holy Spirit), we will be looking at some of the attributes of our God especially in the area of His divine mercy even in the midst of judgement as the scriptures say in Romans 9:15. Particular interests will be on what the events in this chapter portrays about our God and what is expected of us as His beloved and redeemed children, including the blessings that awaits us as we trust the Lord in our walk in Him and to make the rapture.
1] GOD'S PRECIOUS REMNANTS - (VERSES 1-8)
After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; 6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; 7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;
(a) God's Sovereignty over All
"four corners of the earth" speaks of the global sovereign authority and omnipotence of our great God. No matter what is going on around the world at the moment, God is and will always be in control of all the works of His hands (Psalm 104:24)
(b) Seal of Identification, Guaranteed of Redemption
"And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption". [Ephesians 4:30 NLT]
How comforting to know that despite God's ordained judgement over the earth, He has us on His mind and would do anything to protect us from harm. Even in the midst of judgement and suffering, our God still remains merciful. We see His grace even in the midst of trials and tests. Although, the account of John in this chapter appears to be an account of what will happen at post-rapture, however, one thing is certain, God still has remnants that bears and will still bear the seal of the Holy Spirit. The seal is a mark of us being identified as His own and doubles as a guarantee of being saved on the day of redemption. This should serve as a reminder for us that no matter what we are going through or will go through, we can derive comfort and great confidence in God's ever present and ever fresh seal of assurance of His love which preserves us from being harmed!
Also, bible scholars believe that the "one hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel" who were sealed talks about the Jews, from the 12 tribes of ethnic Israel. Jeremiah 30:7 mentioned the descendants of Jacob who will be rescued from trouble. Revelations 14:4 refers to these ones as the first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
2] GOD OF EVERY NATIONS, TRIBES, PEOPLES AND TONGUES - (VERSES 9-17)
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" 11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:"Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honour and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever.
(a) POSITION OF HONOUR THROUGH PURITY (VERSE 9)
"a great multitude which no one could number, ...... standing before the throne"? Who else can make that happen except our God; all merciful, most gracious. John receives this vision immediately after the vision of verses 1-8. To stand before the throne and before the Lamb signifies a position of great honour.
Just as we were told two weeks ago, there awaits a position of great honour for us if we will hold unto the profession of our faith and refuse to compromise our lifestyle of holiness.
Notice also that these were not just standing; they were all dressed in white robes (signifying purity) and also had palm branches in their hands which signifies victory! (John 12:13). What a combination. A life of Purity guarantees victory at all times.
"Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord". [Hebrews 12:14 NLT]
(b) SALVATION - A GIFT OF GOD (VERSE 10)
They recognize that God is the source of salvation, and no one else. Salvation isn't something we achieve; it is something we receive. Salvation is a gift of God
"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it."[Ephesians 2: 8-9 NLT]
(c) SEVEN FOLD ASCRIPTION OF ADORATION (VERSES 11-12/ REV 5: 12)
We are created for His pleasure, to worship Him in the beauty of Holiness and to praise Him. This is all we will be doing forever, in Heaven. The seven attributes of our God worthy of our praise and adorations are;
i) Blessing: Psalm 145: 1-3. To bless in this context means to salute, praise; to kneel down when preparing to speak words of blessing to God in Heaven, to the King of kings on His throne. We ascribe all blessings to Him.
ii) Glory: John 2:11. The majestic, absolute perfection residing in our God, our Lord and Maker; it also talks about God's visible splendour, honour, power, authority, magnificence etc (Isaiah 60:1). He's worthy of all glory.
iii) Wisdom: 1 Tim 1:17, Jude 1:25. He is the embodiment of wisdom. The only wise God!
iv) Thanksgiving: Psalm 75:1, 107:1, 8, 1 Cor. 15:57; Psalm 92:1, 2 Sam.22:50. Even if we have a thousand tongues, they are not enough to give Him thanks.
v) Honour: To glorify, to make splendid. Speaks of the splendour that belongs to God; this is one of the attributes of God that He has bestowed upon man (Psalm 8:5).
vi) Power & Might: Talks about God's Capacity & Ability; Authority & Right to act; Might & Effective power shown in reigning! 1 Corinthians 1:24
(d) DELIVERED OUT OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION TO SERVE THE LORD FOREVER (VERSES 13-15)
What a change of status. Be it post or pre-rapture, our God is able to deliver. He does not stop there, along with His deliverance comes the privilege of serving Him in the beauty of His holiness Day and Night. This phrase signifies an unending season of worship.
From dungeon to the palace, from bondage to liberty to serve in the place full of His glory! Psalm 30:11.
Also note that these ones have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." This is a work of His grace and not our qualification! To cap it all, He assures us of His ever abiding presence forever.
(e) TEN ETERNAL BLESSINGS OF THE REDEEMED (VERSES 16-17)
· Will forever be before the Throne of God
· Will serve Him day and Night in His Temple
· God will dwell among them
· They shall not hunger anymore
· They shall not thirst anymore
· The sun shall not strike them
· The heat shall not beat them
· The Lamb of God (Jesus) will be their shepherd
· He will lead us to living fountains of water (direction)
· God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
From the teaching so far in the book of Revelation, we cannot but wonder how beautiful heaven is. Little wonder when people are at the verge of giving up the spirit to go and be with the Lord, their joy always know no bound. Especially, for those who had the privilege of having a glimpse of heaven before departing. Just as we are repeatedly encouraged never to compromise our faith and holy living for anything, let us desire greatly, to make the rapture. I end with the words of Apostle Paul;
"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow?not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below?indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord". [Romans 8: 38-39 NLT]
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Thursday, May 10 2012
In the last few weeks, we have been looking at the ("perhaps") futuristic reports of the book of Revelation. In particular, last week we looked at the first four seals of a six-seals Revelation John had. We considered the different divergent interpretations alluded to these seals (the White, Red, Black and Pale Horses) but rather we focused on the events and were reminded that as believers we should be ready to make the first flight in order to avoid the terrible events that will happen during the great tribulations. Today we will finish up the last two seals by the help of the Holy Spirit and see what we can learn as believers.
Seal # 5 - The Cry of the Martyrs [Verse 9-11]
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 testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
Slain for the Word sake and the testimony they held - As believers, we must be faithful (to the Word of God and the confession of our faith) until death being aware that there is a better city awaiting us. Matt. 10:28, I Cor. 1:6, Is the testimony of Christ confirmed in you? Do you value your testimony? How much sacrifice can you make for the cause of the Word and the testimony of faith? We don't have to be martyred but we must deny ourselves, we must make sacrifices, pay prices for what we believe in.
Quality of our God - Here is a reflection of the quality of our God (holy and true) again as it has been highlighted since we began this book of Revelation and in the bible. As believers, we must reflect our God in our day to day activities (II Cor. 5:20).
Reward of their action - God does not owe any man! Matt. 19:29
God is a God of Purpose - The Lord comforts His afflicted and persecuted servants. He knows what He is doing and has an appointed time for His action. Therefore, we must always trust in His timing and judgement as He is never late but always right on time.
Seal # 6 - Cosmic Disturbances [Verse 12-17]
12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
Shaking of the world - These are happenings that signify the end of the earth as abound in the prophecies of the Scriptures (Matt. 24, II Tim. 3). Indeed perilous times!
Nothing is able to save - In these days, with the magnitude of dread and terror, position, status, riches, valour, strength will not be able to support men. In fact men will look for death but it would be too late.
As believers, we must be conscious that we are sojourners on this earth. There abound signs that Christ's return is imminent and therefore we must hold fast to the confession of our faith not allowing the passing pains and contempt of men to becloud our minds in jettisoning our eternal rewards.
Rev. 3:11 - "I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown."
Heb. 10:23 - "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)"
As Christians, we are called to a cause which we must tenaciously hold on to. Our bold confession of Christ and a lifestyle of holiness and truth must not be compromised. Whatever we need to endure to enter into the eternal rest God has prepared for us must be endured. It will be greatly painful to be found on the earth during those terrible days. May we all go with the first flight in Jesus' name (Amen).
Contributor: Akin Akande