REV2022-12 – How It All Ends – What Is Revelation 1-22’s Message From God For Every Believer?
More people will get saved during the Tribulation than in any other single period of time in history. That’s how loving God is. What’s amazing is that’s what He wants us to be doing. He wants us to go all over the world. He wants us to be Christ loving, Bible reading, hope overflowing believers and that’s what we should be in our ever-darkening world. That’s why Revelation was targeting this representative group. Do you remember where this book went? Primarily it was addressed by God through Christ to John to send into the church plant circuit, the seven churches. Six of them had been planted most likely out from Ephesus and John was supposed to tell them how they were supposed to live as Christ loving, Bible reading, hope overflowing saints in an ever-darkening world.
We’re in that next section, the Tribulation events. Most often we’re thinking about all the horrible stuff, but two times God pulls back the veil to show the amazing parts as the Tribulation is unfolding. As a fourth, one out of every four people, dies these 144,000 Jewish evangelists are spreading the Gospel. They’re messianic Jews. Do you know what I think of them? As little Apostle Pauls. Can you imagine one Apostle Paul? How he was like the Energizer Bunny, you couldn’t get him down. They even stoned him to death and God raised him up and he kept going. Can you imagine 144,000 of them? That can speak every language of the world. That’s part of the gift of languages. These 144,000 can communicate with every single person on Earth and they don’t need machine learning or Bible translation tools. It’s part of the supernatural outreach God does during the Tribulation.
Let’s look, here’s the whole Tribulation roadmap for this section. We have four horsemen. Look in chapter 6. I want you to see it and we’ll tag them. “Now I saw,” verse 1 of chapter 6. By the way, verse 1 of Revelation 6. “Now I saw,” which means John saw these events happen. “The Lamb opened.” Jesus is the one that launches the Tribulation, “the Lamb opened one of the seals.” God has it all planned out and it’s orchestrated, the order. “I heard one of the four living creatures.” John is there witnessing all these events and recording them. “Saying with a voice like thunder, ‘Come and see.'” God wanted him to see that He wanted him to write it down, and He wanted us to know about it.
What did we want to know? “Behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.” We don’t usually say that I have a bow. We say I have a bow and what? Arrows. It’s very possible that since every word of God is pure and inspired and God is precise that this is saying that this is the leader. The first one there, the conquering, the white horse, the first seal on the left. There are four horsemen. The first horseman most likely represents the Anti-Christ and the bow without the arrows means that he conquers the world, probably non-militarily. There are so many problems, so much famine, so much pestilence, so much unrest, so many powder kegs between all the different groups on Earth and all the rivalries. It says that nation will rise against nation kindred against kindred and tribe against tribe, all that. There’s going to be so much anger and hatred that this person arises.
He’s the Jesus everybody wanted. He is so winsome, not negative. The white horse speaks of purity, peace, the white dove, and all that stuff. He does it. He conquers, but immediately look what verse 3 says. “When He opened the second seal. I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the Earth.” Look what happens, “and that people should kill one another; and there was given him a great sword.” This is warfare, this is fighting. The Anti-Christ launches and then the peace is shattered by the warfare.
Then third there’s this famine. Look at verse 5, “When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come and see’…he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard the voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and wine.'” All that strange verbiage is saying that it’s going to take every bit of everybody’s time to earn enough money just to have enough food to survive on until the next day. That’s what famine is and that’s the third, the black, horseman.
Then this pale green one in verse 7. “When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a pale horse.” Chlōros, like chlorine, have a sickly green color. “And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the Earth, to kill with sword,” that’s through all the warfare, “with hunger,” that’s through the famine, “with death,” that’s what happens when you get wounded and starve, you die. “And by the beasts of the Earth.” Thērion. I don’t personally believe that means that snakes are going to multiply, and lions are going to multiply, and bears are going to multiply and the beasts of the Earth.
Most likely this goes back to, do you remember Anton van Leeuwenhoek, the guy in the Netherlands that put some lenses together and started the first microscope? He got a drop of water from the puddle in front of his house, and he gasped. It’s recorded in his journals that he said what marvelous beasties. That’s what he called the microscopic organisms. That word is the same, thērion, these little beasts. Probably this is plagues and pestilence. The beasts are pathogens that all together, collectively kill a fourth.
Then the martyrs in verse 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 they held. And they cried ‘How long’…and a white robe was given to each of them.” Verse 11. “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.” That’s the martyr seal. That’s the fifth.
Then the cosmic changes start in verse 12. “He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth.” Verse 13, “the stars of Heaven fell.” Verse 14, wow, “the sky receded as a scroll” and everybody gets scared to death. Then what happens is where we are right now, that block going this way, which says sealing of the 144,000 of the 12 tribes and that’s Revelation 7.
That’s where we start in chapter 7 verse 1. It says, “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.” People say, oh, the Bible is false. The Earth doesn’t have four corners. I know, but when you buy the most modern car made by any manufacturer it will have a compass and if they have an icon for it within the control panel, it will have four points. What they’re saying is for us to orient ourselves we have to think of something in front of us, something behind us, something to our right, and something to our left.
By the way, that’s actually in the Hebrew language, that’s how God gives directions. He gives it like He’s sitting on the throne in the temple and in front of Him is east, on His left is north, on His right is south, and behind Him is west. That’s actually how God gave directions in Hebrew. He didn’t say that the Earth was flat and square, He’s talking about the four corners, the four points as it were. Look what happens. It says the winds don’t blow. Let’s go through this because it’s very interesting.
Let’s study the seventh chapter. The 144,000 Jewish evangelists represent God the Savior’s missionaries. Okay. Number one, God is always a Savior. The events of chapter 7 explain God’s plan to rescue anyone who will respond to His wrath with repentance. Anybody that when the Anti-Christ comes and the warfare comes and the famines come and then all of this death and pestilence come, anybody that gets scared by that and starts reaching out for God, He’ll save them. Look how chapter 6 ends, verse 17. “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Who can survive?
Two groups will survive the Tribulation, the 144,000 Jewish witnessing evangelists are one of the groups. That’s the first eight verses, and their converts, they’re still standing. Look at chapter 7, verse 9. “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues.” Remember that’s how God talks about the whole world standing. What does it say in verse 17 of chapter 6? Who’s going to stand? They’re “standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God.” What a scene this is. Number one, God is always the Savior. Jesus came to seek and save the lost and as the time of God’s wrath begins to pour out on the Earth Jesus launches His evangelists. This is not new. God the Savior always has evangelists. Okay.
In the Old Testament God Himself was the evangelist. Do you remember? He’s revealing Himself to His creation, Genesis 1 and 2, and by the time they fall into sin who comes looking for them in Genesis 3? God is the one who said to Adam, where art thou? God was looking for him. Then when Adam and Eve and Enoch heard the Gospel, you say they heard the Gospel? Yeah, that’s Genesis 3:15. I’m sure Mark has covered that if he’s still teaching Genesis, but He says that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent. That’s called the protoevangelium, the first declaration of the Gospel. Women don’t have seeds so that was prefiguring the virgin birth of Christ. The seed of the woman will be a virgin born human and the human would be injured, Genesis 3:15 says in His heel. What form of capital punishment usually involves the heel? Not very many. Maybe dragging someone through the streets by their feet, but the idea of Christ being crucified. His heel was bruised, but in the process, He crushes the serpent, which Genesis 12 tells us is Satan.
The Gospel is presented to Adam and Eve. Enoch became a preacher of righteousness. So does Noah. The patriarchs were supposed to declare the truth of God. The nation of Israel from Exodus 1 on was supposed to be a light to the nations. When they wouldn’t do it, they were temporarily replaced by us, the Church. God has a future plan for them. We are the evangelists of the world through Revelation 5, but the 144,000 evangelists start with the launch of the Tribulation. They go through their recall in chapter 14, we’ll see it when we get there. The two witnesses show up as a double. We have the 144,000 evangelizing then the two witnesses and they’re in chapter 11. Then by the time we get to chapter 14, an angel is preaching, and wait till we get to that point. That’s amazing to read about. Then of course, during the millennium, the temple is God’s visitor center where He’s declaring the truth, but so few will listen. Finally, God the Savior Himself is with us forever in Revelation 21 and 22.
Secondly, look at what it says. The angels hold the winds of the Earth, that the wind should not blow. Have you ever thought about why God did that? God, through His angels standing at the four points of the compass, briefly stops the atmospheric engine that drives all weather and air purification that will literally take the breath away from Earth’s inhabitants. Why? Do you know what Daniel 5:23 says? At the high moment before Belshazzar, Daniel is standing there, the king’s knees are knocking, his face is pale, and he’s fainting.
By the way, Bonnie and I, when we were teaching classes in Paris, we went to the Louvre. The Louvre has a beautiful display of the beautiful, glazed tiles from the audience hall of the Babylonian Kings, which means it would have been there. They found it in the excavation. Some of the bricks that saw this event, you can go to the Louvre and see. The display tells how tall the wall was. What they don’t mention is up there high a hand and a finger started writing, about 40 feet up in the air. It was writing on the wall, and it said “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.” It scared the king to death. He’d never seen a hand floating and writing. They searched out and they found Daniel. Daniel’s old and he’s walking in, and they said, what is that? Fearless Daniel looked at that king and he said, the God who wrote that holds your life’s breath in His hand. In other words, only at His allowance do you breathe again. He holds your life’s breath. That’s Daniel 5:23.
God does it again for the whole world. He takes away the breath from Earth’s inhabitants to remind them who He is. Think no breeze, no clouds, no rain. Just stale, dusty, human, smoky acrid air. It’s going to be awful. Then God deploys these evangelists. Verses 2 and 3. “Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God,” 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, saying, ‘Do not harm the Earth,” verse 3, “the sea, or the trees.” In other words, don’t start unleashing all these horrible events until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. I heard the numbers and there are listed all the tribes.
What’s going on? God always seals His own. That’s the third observation that I made because I’m studying this with you. I’m just typing out mine and I hope you’re typing out yours. Don’t forget you have to read the book of Revelation. That’s a very high percentage of your grade. You have to do that project that’s half of your grade. You have to memorize those two verses and then you have these two little quizzes, and then you have a final exam. Don’t forget all that. My wonderful wife said, honey, remind them. So, did I remind them? She sits over there and prays for me because of my phonographic mind, that what I talk about is what you need to hear because I could talk about anything. I can remember just about everything I’ve ever seen and read. I can tell you the pages on my books where all this stuff comes from. I can see the pages of my Bible in my mind. I have to be very careful about what I talk about. I’m praying that the Lord will guide me because there’s someone here that needs to hear, especially today’s lesson. That’s why she sits through the classes and prays for me over there.
God knows who belongs to Him. Let me read two Ephesians 1 and verse 14. It’s a great verse. A lot of the verses I share with you are part of the verses that I’ve memorized and that is a part of my life. They are the framework for everything that I do and believe. It says in Ephesians 1:14, “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” What is that?
Backup to verse 13. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Everybody that gets saved is baptized by the Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit is done by God. It’s the baptism all of us have exactly the same. We’re baptized by the Holy Spirit, into the body of Christ and He seals us.
What that sealing is like, look at Ezekiel 9. This is fascinating. Remember there’s nothing new in Revelation. In Revelation, it’s just all going back to the rest of the Bible so look at Ezekiel 9 verses 3 and 4. “Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub.” This is the death throes of the kingdom of Judah. They’re going to be deported, but before they’re deported, before the temple is destroyed, the presence of God leaves the temple. You all remember that, and the glory Shekinah cloud goes up from the Ark of the Covenant and hovers over the temple. Then it moves and goes to the eastern gate and then it goes and floats off toward the east, so you remember all that.
Look what happens just before that event. “Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had a writers inkhorn at his side.” This is about where many people reading through the Old Testament are going, boy, this is confusing. I don’t understand what’s going on here. Persist. Look what verse 4 says. “And the LORD said to him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads.'” Where does the Anti-Christ mark? On the forehead and right hand. See even the mark of the beast is copying something God does, only this one is invisible.
“Put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.” What is going on? If you’ve read the other parts of Ezekiel, the nation has descended into sun worship and idol worship, and they’re even doing it in the temple. Whenever a true believer, a follower of the God of the universe, went by the temple they didn’t like the temple anymore because it was ruined. They had this sun worship. They were bowing down and making cakes to the pagan gods and bowing toward the east and all this horrible stuff they were doing in their wickedness and their apostasy. Those people, look what it says, they “sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”
God wants us to grieve over sin, not grow accustomed to it. They demonstrated by their reaction that they were really believers. God knew they were really believers, but we find out they’re really believers because of this internal hatred of sin. If you want to know if you’re a Christian, not if your mom says don’t worry, you prayed. No. Do you want to know if you really are born again? Do you have an internal hatred of sin?
When I was at Bob Jones University, I was in the administration, I was the assistant Dean of men and I loved it. Every year we had an incoming class of 1,200 to 1,300 freshmen. Did you know about half of them, no, it was 20%, we usually got about 300, so a fourth of them would get saved during the evangelistic meetings? They had just come along with mom and dad and just agreed with everything, but they got to college, and all of a sudden they said, wow, I’m not sure, this isn’t working. I don’t understand the Bible. I don’t like the Bible. I love sin more than other stuff. The first week of school was evangelistic meetings. Do you know what one of the greatest pieces of evidence of salvation is? You hate sin because the Holy Spirit of God lives inside of you. If you don’t hate sin, you’re either sick or you’re not saved. It’s that simple. Okay.
Look what happens. Verse 5, “To the others He said in my hearing, ‘Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare…Utterly slay old and young men…but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark.” What is this? This is the run-up before the Babylonian captivity. God went through the inkhorn, the angel. No one saw this. God did it. He let Ezekiel know about it and write it down. God marked every true believer and when the Babylonians came through, they were murdering everybody and killing them. All of a sudden, for some reason, they’d let that one go and they would keep killing and murdering, and then they would let that one go. God was preserving a remnant to go into the Babylonian captivity to take all the scrolls.
Do you ever wonder how you have a copy of the Bible? Why didn’t it get destroyed by the Babylonians? Because God marked the believers. They had the scriptures. They suffered, they had to walk barefooted in chains, and they went all the way to Babylon, but they carried with them the scrolls. How did they survive? God put a mark on them. Why do nations come and kill and pillage and plunder and murder and rape and everything else? Because Satan came to kill and steal and destroy. Satan is behind all of this. He is the one that causes war. He’s the real god of war. He’s the real god of murder. He’s the real god of everything that has to do with going against God, but he can’t overpower anything God does. God marked all the believers and the Babylonians just systematically killed everyone except the ones God wanted to make it to Babylon. Isn’t that interesting?
You say, why are you telling us all this? That’s an Old Testament thing and you’re not supposed to teach us Ezekiel, that’s somebody else’s job. For this reason, look at Revelation 2 and 3. God knows who belongs to Him. He’s always sealed them just like back in Ezekiel and here God declares these witnesses are His and He seals them with His name. That’s why everything in Revelation connects back to something else in the Bible. That’s why I love this book. You have to be studying the whole Bible to understand Revelation and when you understand Revelation, all of a sudden, the whole Bible makes sense.
I used to tell the students back when Bonnie and I weren’t traveling so much, when I would teach this class, I would carry a box that was a jigsaw puzzle box. I would come up to start the class and I’d be shaking the box and the students could hear it. I would walk back and forth like this shaking my box of jigsaw puzzles. Then my assignment would be that I’d open the box and I’d have a couple of students come up front and I’d say, reach in and get a piece and hold your piece and describe to all the other students what the puzzle looks like. You can’t figure out what a puzzle looks like from one of the 1000 funny shaped little pieces. While they were standing facing the group, I would hold the box up so they couldn’t see it and all of you could see. Suddenly, all of you knew what the picture was, but none of them holding one little piece could understand. I said, now what you’ve just seen is the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation takes a thousand pieces scattered across the whole Bible and makes it one picture. It’s like the picture on the box of the jigsaw puzzle.
All of a sudden what’s going on here, and look at 2 Corinthians 1. Let me get there. 2 Corinthians 1 Paul even further enlarges this in verse 20. I’ll start in verse 21. “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” Paul’s talking about the fact that God always seals His own. Why am I spending so much time on that? Did you hear the Holy Spirit is the one that is the down payment, the sealing one? He is the agent of redemption. He is the agent of regeneration. How are we supposed to handle that?
Look at this. Beware of ever grieving the Holy Spirit of God. Let’s look at Ephesians 4:30. Remember the people getting this letter had the book of Ephesians and they knew what it says in chapter 4 verse 30. “And do not grieve.” Present active. Okay. Present active imperative. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Beware of ever grieving the Holy Spirit. Why? Let me ask you, why do some believers not feel like getting into the Bible?
When Bonnie and I were newlyweds, we moved to California and started working at Grace Community Church. After, let’s see, Johnny was born in 1985 and we were married in ’83, so after about a year and a half we had this beautiful little boy, and we were scared to death. You come home from the hospital and they’re so fragile and they’re all wrapped up in that blanket and you don’t want to unwrap them because you don’t know what to do. It’s scary. You have this baby and you’ve never had one before. Bonnie was great and she took care of him, and he was thriving until one day, he was like three months old, he started this horrible cough. They call it croup. What an awful sound a baby makes. They’re coughing this horrible cough. We thought he was dying. Back then doctors had phone numbers and we actually called the doctor and the doctor actually answered. Shows how long ago it was.
He said yep. We held the phone near him, and he said, yeah… it’s croup, don’t worry. Turn the shower on and get the water running, steaming. Close the door, walk around in the bathroom with him, let him breathe that in, and bring him in on Monday. I said, Monday? It’s Friday night, he might die. He said he won’t die. I said, why? He said I asked your wife already, is he still hungry? She said, oh yeah, he’s ravenous. He’s very hungry. He eats all he can eat. He said if they have an appetite, don’t worry. Just bring him in on Monday. He said he’ll get better.
Hey, that’s true spiritually. If you don’t have an appetite, if it is like pulling teeth to read this thing and if reading it is the single most boring thing you can think of, that’s a problem. If you only do it because someone paid and you’ve got to finish out this term and you’re going to do it and just barely make it by, you are exhibiting a lack of hunger. That means you need to go to the hospital. You are desperate, your croup is serious. It’s all about your hunger and thirst for God.
Why do believers sometimes feel like not getting into Word or worse, why do Christians sometimes not even feel saved? I was a pastor for 38 years and do you know what I found out? People make an appointment, and they say I have a question about the Bible, or I have a question about something else. They get into your office and as soon as the secretary shuts the door, they lean forward. I say I want to talk to you about your question about prophecy or whatever. They say oh no, that doesn’t matter. Then they start getting very emotional and they say, I don’t think I’m a Christian. I don’t feel like a Christian. I feel horrible.
After about the 100th time this happens over the decades you want to jump in, but I wait until they get all done with that. I act sad with them. They finally look up and I say, was there ever a time you thought you were Christian? Oh yes, they usually give their testimony. I was saved and I serve the Lord, but now I don’t feel like a Christian. I say well, the good news is if you ever were a Christian, you still are because you can’t get unchristian, okay? Then they start listening and you know what you usually find out? Ephesians 4:30, don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God. If you do, you will not like this book because remember this book will keep you from sin, but sin will keep you from this book and you won’t have any hunger for it. Also, you will not feel like a Christian. Okay.
Let me go through this quickly. Flesh led living grieves the Holy Spirit. Let me ask you a question; are you Spirit led or flesh led? You should constantly be thinking about this. All of you who are going to be in any type of ministry should constantly be thinking about this because you are supposed to be involved in spiritual healthcare. Anybody in ministry is watching over parts of Christ’s flock. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in children’s ministry or adult ministry or youth ministry or evangelistic ministry, it doesn’t matter what it is. What we’re hoping is to keep the believers healthy, so they reproduce and lead other people to Christ, and that people come to Christ and grow.
We don’t want any failures to thrive. That’s what they call children that aren’t hungry and there’s something wrong. They’re sick. They’re not thriving. It’s normal for you to thrive, for your body to be growing, for things to be developing, for your mind. Everything is thriving. We’re aware of that in the physical world and medical world, but we forget about that in the spiritual world. All of you here are either thriving or not. You’re either flesh led or Spirit led.
How can you tell the difference? Galatians 5. Grab your Bible, Galatians 5. See every good question the Bible addresses because God already knows everything we need to know. Look what it says in Galatians 5 verse 16. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit.” That’s the Spirit led life, “and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” That’s the flesh led life. You see it’s one or the other. God is very black and white. With Spirit led, you have attitudes that other people can see. People that are close to you, if they’re godly, they see these things; love and joy and peace and long suffering.
You say, wait a minute. I know that list. I’ve already memorized that; you’re talking about the fruit of the Spirit. Yes. What is the fruit of the Spirit? The fruit of the Spirit is a personality transplant. God transplants the personality of Christ into me. That’s what the fruit of the Spirit is. It’s me living and acting and responding a little more every day by the power of the Spirit to be Christlike. I have loving, joyful, peaceful, long suffering, kind, good, faithful attitudes.
My actions. I want to eat the word. I want to share the Gospel. I couldn’t imagine not sharing this. Remember the story I told you about the guy on the airplane? As soon as he knew it was crashing, he undid his seatbelt and went right down the aisle. He knew his next stop was Heaven and he wanted to take as many people as possible with him. See, we boldly witness. We’re generous givers. We realize everything we give to the Lord lasts forever. If you’ve got an investment with an eternal return, you just want to get as much in there as possible. You have these personal disciplines because we are supposed to reflect Christ in every part of our life. We keep trying to surrender more of our life to get it under His control.
What does the flesh led life look like? Attitudes show up quite regularly. Anger, wrath, anxiety, fear. God is not the author of fear. One of the people that God describes as headed to Hell is fearful and unbelieving, and on and on goes the list in Romans 1 and in Revelation 21 and many other places. Fear is not from God; it is from the devil. We are supposed to fear not, but there’s only one way to fear not, it’s by the power of the Spirit. Selfish, irritated, bitter. Our actions. We’re quick to lie and steal and be immoral and lazy and sarcastic and erratic and restless and self-focused.
In the Spirit led life, when filled and led and controlled by the Spirit, these emotions and actions, and attitudes are revealed. We have this peace and hope and love and boldness and holiness and passion. We’re sensitive. We’re self-sacrificing. We hunger for the Word. We hate sin. Is that us? No, that is the transplanting of God within us by the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit is leading our lives, that’s what we look like, but when the Spirit is not leading our lives, when we’re filled and led and controlled by the flesh our attitudes and actions, and emotions are revealed. We have anxiety, we have fear, we are selfish, and we’re lethargic. We’re disinterested in the Word. We have no passion for the lost. We’re irritable with people. We get bitter. We won’t forgive other people and we’re very moody. King Saul got so angry he threw a spear at his number one warrior. He was very moody.
What I’m saying is our emotions betray who is leading us: the Holy Spirit or our fallen flesh. See we are in a body of flesh that has been filled with this new operating system, the Holy Spirit. The place between our body and the new us, the regenerated us, the meeting grounds between that, the storm center, is our emotions and that shows what’s going on. It’s like when Bonnie and I served in Oklahoma. You had the warm humid Gulf air coming up from the south and you had the cold Arctic air coming down and they seem to meet over the plains, Oklahoma specifically, where the tornadoes were. We just had constant, really violent weather. The meeting place is our emotions, and our emotions betray who is leading us.
We have a Spirit led life; a Spirit led mind leads to Spirit ruled emotions. Isn’t it interesting how God describes us? You know what it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “and the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul, and body.” When God looks at us He sees an immortal, infinite, born from above, regenerated spirit and He sees our emotions that are to be under the control of that Spirit. Then He sees our body, which is going to struggle the whole time. Remember, it will be going in the wrong direction, backing toward Heaven. That’s what our body wants to do. It doesn’t want to go to Heaven. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. It doesn’t want to go there. It’s not from there and it wants to stay in the world. God turned us around, but our bodies resist it.
It starts with our Spirit led mind, Romans 7, Galatians 5, Ephesians 5, and Colossians 3. Our Spirit ruled, surrendered emotions become loving and joyful and peaceful and gentle and kind and patient and bold and long-suffering. Our body more and more surrendered denies ungodliness, avoids sins, and focuses on serving God, but boy, that’s not how the flesh led life is.
Everything starts with the body. Not the spirit, not the mind. No. It’s a restless body. It’s an undisciplined body. See, the body is controlling everything. It’s an appetite driven body. It’s lust filled, never satisfied, and a constantly defeated by sin body. Do you know what that does to the storm center? To the emotions? The person with flesh driven emotions is volatile and lethargic and anxious and angry and troubled and distracted and impure. It leads to a Spirit quenched mind. That’s what grieving the Spirit means. There’s no stability, no boldness, no insights into the Word. No hunger for God. No joy in the Spirit. Just an aimless, no confidence, empty life masquerading among other Christians, knowing enough to get along, but down deep is miserable. That’s why all this is so important.
Back to Revelation 7, I’m not teaching the epistles. I’m sure someone’s already taught that. Let me go to Revelation 7 because we’re sealed. What I just shared with you are the byproducts of that sealing. Look at verse 4, “And I heard the number of those who were sealed.” All of a sudden, God always wanted Israel to be His light to the nations. That’s what Romans 11 is about. That God chose Israel to be His light to the world. Jews begin turning to Christ from every tribe. Zechariah 12 talks about that. See the Old Testament, that piece in the puzzle box, all of a sudden you see it on the cover of the book of Revelation.
What marks this is verse 9, the final super evangelism event. I already read it to you. All these people standing there with palm branches and white robes. It’s the greatest ever evangelism event. God uses 144,000 Jewish evangelists and the two witnesses and the Gospel angels to be sure that everyone on Earth hears the plan of salvation. Why? Well, they declare it in verse 10. Just as Jonah reminds us salvation is of the Lord. So now, all of Heaven is declaring God is the Savior. He is the initiator and the accomplisher of salvation. Look at verse 10. “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Wow.
Let me just share with you how wonderful it is to go through life believing all this. Denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts. Asking the Holy Spirit to fill us, asking the Holy Spirit to make us joyful and peaceful and fearless and bold and seeking to be in step with the Spirit.
I remember when Bonnie and I started after we were with MacArthur out in California, we went to New England. We were sent out and my mentor pastor came and installed me in this historic church in Rhode Island called Quidnessett. I went there and it was a lovely church. It was an amazing place. I started doing what I knew how to do, I started teaching through the Bible verse by verse. About three or four months into our ministry there, we lived in a parsonage built by the DuPont family in 1828. It was this beautiful, pastoral mansion house, but it was almost 200 years old, so it didn’t have any hallways. You remember, they were heated with fireplaces. There was a fireplace in the center that opened into every room on each floor and although they’d put in heating, they didn’t put in hallways. You had to walk through another room to go from our room to the bathroom. You had to walk through the nursery room or through this bedroom and vice versa. It was a very unusual house.
The phone rang, which was downstairs and screwed on the wall. That’s how phones were. They weren’t in your pocket. They were screwed on the wall, and they had this long cord. When you wanted to talk to someone you had to stretch the cord as long as possible and hide so no one could hear you. Here’s that phone down there, all the bedrooms were upstairs. The phone is shrilling downstairs and it started ringing at precisely two o’clock every morning. Every day the phone would start to ring at two. You couldn’t take the phone off the wall because it would make sort of a beeping sound. It was worse, so I started waking up at 1:59 AM and I’d start walking quietly so as not to wake up any of the kids in their cribs and head down. I would try not to fall down the stairs. I would get there, and I picked the phone up. Every day it was the same thing. You dirty rotten F word, D word, F word, and every other word they could think of. I’d say, can I help you? They would say, ugh. I would say, okay, I’ve got to go, and I would hang up. Every day: ring, lift, swear. Can I help you? I’m hanging up now. Every day.
Even though I was half asleep, about the fourth or fifth time I actually recognized that voice. Concurrent with that, something started happening every week during my message. There was a balcony in this church. I would have my Bible; I’d say in conclusion, and it was almost like a torpedo. This person in the very back row would stand up, they’d come out of their chair so fast. They looked like they’d just been launched, and they would come down the balcony stairs. I would see them.
I’m a slow learner so I think after about three weeks of the phone ringing at two o’clock and the torpedo guy, I asked the chairman of the elders, I said I’m going to do something. I’m going to walk down the aisles as I’m teaching and as I’m teaching, I’m going to say, now we’re going to be closing in prayer. Norm’s going to close this and I’m going to go stand by the only door out of the balcony and find the torpedo man. I did that. I said in conclusion, but I was already in front of the door where the torpedo man came down the stairs as fast as possible. I stood in the middle, and he had his head down. I said, hello and he said, hello and looked up. I said, I recognize your voice. You’re my 2:00 AM caller. I wanted to hear you talk. He looked down. I said, I really want to talk to you.
To make a long story short my 2:00 AM caller, his name was Al, was a practicing homosexual who had 600 different partners. In the process, he contracted AIDS. Our church had an inner-city clinic. He had gone to our church with our lovely doctors and nurses who did free AIDS tests back then, before the government was doing it. It was secret and they put it in an envelope. He tested positive and they slid it across to him, of course with all confidentiality. He became angry at our church because we’re the ones that told him he was dying. He became angry at God because the wages of sin is death.
He didn’t just do that. His group had broken into our church and stolen the sound equipment. They had broken into our church and had sprayed on the white walls in 8’ high letters, every four-letter thing you can think of. They had broken into our bus and started a fire. They burned the Sunday school bus. They were very much opposed to the Gospel and now I’m talking to him.
To make a long story short we met several times. The last time I’ll never forget. I just said Al, what would keep you from right now crying out to Christ asking Him to save you? It was almost like everything was pent up. He just went, oh! He said, nothing, I just feel so dirty. I can’t imagine God could forgive me. I said, He will. He was gloriously saved.
Then we had to baptize him. This was in the early days of AIDS. We did baptisms all the time. His group said they were going to come and disrupt the service, so the Rhode Island State Troopers came. Have you ever seen Rhode Island State Troopers? They have shiny leather boots that go up to their knees or beyond. They’re really rugged looking. They’re all like 6’4” and they don’t just have those little guns, they wore the big ones. Our whole service had these police guarding the service.
The elders said he has to be last. He has AIDS and we don’t know how they transmit AIDS. The chairman of the elders was like 80 years old. I had Al come up to give his testimony by the microphone, which everyone gives their testimony before we baptized them because it really encourages the Body. While Al was giving his testimony, I heard this water running sound and I looked at the chairman of the elders who had a gallon of bleach and was pouring Clorox into the baptistry hoping to kill the AIDS virus as if Clorox in the baptistry would keep me from getting aids from Al. Can you imagine such love that they were trying to take care of me? Al shared his testimony, the most glorious testimony. He told the whole story about calling and hating and all the disruption he did. He said, now I’ve come to Christ.
See, that is why the 144,000 go out when Earth is at its worst. When people in the dark hear the love of Christ, they start shouting. Look at verse 10. “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb…and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God.” More people get saved after the Rapture in huge numbers than at any other time. This multitude is saved from the Tribulation. They were not taken out by Christ with the Rapture; they’re saved in his wrath and God is with us forever and that’s what verses 15 to 17 say in their song.
That leads us to where we’re going next. You go from chapter 7 into these trumpets and with the first trumpet 1/3rd of all trees and grass are burned and then this mountain of fire hits the sea and destroys 1/3rd of the sea. Then something poisons all the water and there’s darkness. What the Bible says in Revelation 8 is all about the heavens shaking. It’s kind of a fulfillment of Luke 21. It starts with God waiting and it says in verse 1 that when they opened the seventh seal there was silence in Heaven for about half an hour. God waits almost like saying, I’m giving you time to repent.
It just shows how patient Jesus is, and how He waits. He’s not willing that any should perish. Before His throne, there’s an amazing silence as the voices of myriads of angels and heavenly creatures and the saints all are strangely silent. The silence starts the events. After the half hour, in verse 2, the seven angels were given trumpets. Verse 3, they take the prayers of all the saints. Remember I told you they’re in that bowl and now they start being poured out. God’s wrath starts.
The birth pangs we saw in Matthew 24 are going to get big. The trumpets are more deadly than the seals. They’re not as deadly as the bulls. As we’ll see when we come back, they ruin everything.
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