Calling the Bride
Revelation Chapter Seven
The visions contained in Revelation’s seventh chapter are a continuation of the visions which were released by the opening of the sixth seal in Chapter Six.
In Chapter Six we were shown the persecutors of the church represented by the four horses, the persecuted pleading for their vindication, and a vision of the answer to their prayers in the future before Jesus returns. Chapter Seven continues Revelation’s portrait of the Lord’s church in the latter days.
John resumes his narrative and we watch with him as he is treated to a supernatural view of the earth that no satellite from NASA could ever hope to obtain. –
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree (verse 1).
In this vision, John is obviously not observing a globe. He sees that the earth has “corners.” In the Greek the word corner means a literal angled corner as its primary meaning. It can also mean a hidden, secret corner. We can assume that the angels stationed in these hidden corners have great power over the elements and can control the direction of the four winds from the north, south, east and west. No matter how hard modern man attempts to scientifically manipulate the weather, the wind will blow according to God’s plan and purposes.
The wind in verse one is related to judgment, and we are shown that the judgment on the environment will not be released immediately. There is a period of time that has been designated as a time of preparation as we shall see. –
And 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 given to hurt the earth and the sea, (verse 2).
The seal of the Living God is His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30). We are shown that it comes from the east where Jesus’ crucifixion enabled the releasing of the Holy Spirit to all those who have put their faith in Him.
We listen as the fifth angel gives his instructions to the other four angels. –
Saying, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (verse 3).
This sealing of God’s servants is for their protection and it has a Scriptural parallel in Ezekiel 9:4. In Ezekiel’s vision he is shown God commanding an angel to seal His servants so they will be protected from the judgments that are about to fall on apostate Israel. –
And the Lord said unto him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.’
The ones who were marked by the angel were protected from the slaughter to come. This correlates to the vision in Revelation Chapter Nine where we see the servants of God we are introduced to here in Chapter Seven, being protected from demonic warfare because they have received God’s seal in their foreheads. –
And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads (Rev. 9:4).
The command to not hurt any green thing, which includes grass and trees; represents that which has life, or sap - those who are abiding in the vine of Christ are joined and sealed to Him by the Holy Spirit and are living. Symbolically they are viewed as “green” and are classified with those that are sealed by God and cannot be possessed and controlled by the demonic forces that are being unleashed in Chapter Nine.
These servants are the last generation of disciples and as true disciples they operate as evangelists.
The book of Revelation was written to encourage the persecuted church in every generation, but when we finally reach the last age before Jesus returns, then everything in the book will apply to that generation. The Euphrates River is drying, a major sign that we are occupying the last few increments of time before we witness the Lord’s return. Therefore, we can assume that these servants are the last “Green Berets” of evangelism; true disciples of Jesus who have not succumbed to the apostasy in the last days. This is the Philadelphian remnant we have been introduced to in Chapter Three, that has been promised to be protected from the hour of temptation (apostasy- Rev. 3:10), which in turn protects them from the hour of His judgment (Rev. 14:7). The time of their ministry is during the warning period of the trumpets (chapters eight through eleven) up to the rapture of the church in Chapter Eleven, verse twelve. This rapture occurs just prior to the full onslaught of the great tribulation which begins in Chapter Fourteen, where the Philadelphian remnant is seen in a position of protection and safety with Jesus upon Mt. Zion (Rev. 14:1). This remnant is referred to as candlesticks (Rev. 11:4), designating them as churches and relating them back to the two candlesticks in Revelation two and three, Smyrna and Philadelphia.
Here God is showing us that the characteristics of these two faithful churches are the “salt” that preserves the bride of Christ during the trials and persecutions in the latter days.
In ancient Israel the first of the firstfruits were marked with a red string to designate them as an offering to the Lord and were harvested first to be taken to the temple. In Chapter Fourteen, the 144,000 described in the seventh chapter of Revelation, are also called the “firstfruits.” –
These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and the Lamb - Revelation 14:4.
Thus this designated remnant is sealed or marked by the Holy Spirit, through their faith in Messiah Jesus to be a firstfruits offering to the Lord.
The numbers in Revelation are highly symbolic and because they are contained in visions, cannot be interpreted that literally in most cases, so we can be dealing with a much larger number of individuals. The number 144,000 is in multiples of twelve, the number that is commonly thought to represent the chosen.
The 144,000 represent those who will be preserved by the Lord in the time of apostasy. Whether the number is literal or symbolic, compared to the amount of Christians on the earth, we are being shown that it is a very small number that is to be kept.
It has been assumed that these servants are exclusively Jews because of the reference to their being of the tribes of Israel as exemplified in the following verse. –
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel (verse 4).
The early Christians would have a different understanding of this reference to the tribes of Israel. Those first century believers actually viewed themselves as Jews, therefore they would interpret these passages in Revelation as referring to the church.
James’ epistle, which is written to the church in general, begins by addressing the entire church as “the twelve tribes” (James 1:1, 2). These are his “brethren,” which in the Scriptures is used by the Apostles to designate their fellow Christians (Acts 12:17).
In John’s vision of the New Jerusalem which is a symbolic portrait of the Lord’s bride, His church (Rev. 21:2, 9, 10), we are shown that the twelve gates of the city are named after the twelve tribes of Israel (verse 12).
In Justin Marty’s ‘Dialogue with Trypho” he says this; - "As, therefore, Christ is the Israel and the Jacob, even so we, who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ, are the true Israelitic race" (135:14). The first century church saw themselves as true Jews, through faith in the Messiah Jesus.
Justin Martyr’s statement is based on the teachings of the Scripture. The apostle Paul shows us in Romans 11:17, that the Gentile “wild olive tree” has been grafted into the good olive tree (verse 24). The natural branches (the Jews) have been cut off because of their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah, (Romans 11:20), but they can be grafted in again (Romans 11:23).
So the first century church recognized that it is faith in the Messiah Jesus that has grafted them into the Hebrew lineage (olive tree). As Paul has affirmed, there is now no distinction between Jew and Gentile, we are made one in Jesus.
Let’s look at these principles in a little more detail. -
In the book of Daniel, the prophet is shown some of the things that will happen to his people in the last days (Daniel 10:14). In Chapter Twelve we are shown that Daniel’s people are those whose names are written in the book of life (Dan.12:1). Only those who have received Jesus as their Savior can written into that book, (Philippians 4:3, Rev. 3:5, 21:27). Therefore Daniel’s people are the saved, both Jew and Gentile and are classified as God’s “elect.” While the Jews, are commonly referred to as the “elect” by most Biblical interpreters, the Scriptures do not teach that the term “elect” refers to only the Jews.
In Colossians 3:11, 12, Paul says that those who have put on the new man are - "neither Greek nor Jew....but Christ is all and in all. Put on therefore as the elect of God..." - the divine nature. And the Apostle Paul, who was called to minister to the Gentiles, endured - all things for the elect’s sake (11 Timothy 2:10). Therefore Gentiles who have obeyed the Gospel are viewed as the "elect" also -Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ..." ( I Peter 1:2). Here the apostle Peter has told us how we become the elect. -
For you are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 4:26).
For He is our peace, who has made both one…(Ephesians 3:14 )–
For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God (Ephesians 3:18, 19).
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.GET THIS – And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:26, 28, 29).
Know you therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7). Daniel’s people (Daniel 10:14), all those whose names have been written in the book (Daniel 12:1) - the Lamb's book of life.
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations) (Romans 4:16,17).
God "put no difference" between the Jew and Gentile because all are purified by faith ( Acts 15:9).
The first verse of Chapter Sixty-five in the book of Isaiah begins with one of the prophecies concerning the coming of the Gentiles to God which was fulfilled through Jesus. – I am sought of them that asked not for Me; I am found of them that sought Me not: I said, Behold Me, behold Me, unto a nation that was not called by My name ( Isaiah 65:1).
God then begins to upbraid His own people, the Jews, for falling away from Him in verses 2-7, and He tells them that they will reap what they have sown – “I will measure their former work into their bosom” (verse 7). In verse eight He tells of coming judgment, but He will not destroy them all because “a blessing is in it” – “a seed” - which will come out of Jacob, “an inheritor of My mountains: (the Messiah, Jesus) and My elect shall inherit it, (Him) and My servants shall dwell there.” This elect are – “My people that have sought Me” (Isaiah 65:10). This is the definition of God’s elect.
God continues in verses 11-15 to contrast the blessings of those who have sought Him with those who have chosen those things that have offended Him. –
But you are they that forsake the LORD, that forget My holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number. Therefore will I number you to the sword, and you shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear; but did evil before My eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry: behold, My servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty: behold, My servants shall rejoice, but you shall be ashamed. Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, but you shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit. And you shall leave your name for a curse unto My chosen: for the Lord GOD shall slay you, and call His servants by another name: ( Isaiah 65:11-15).
Bible scholars note that “the other name” is a prophecy of the time when believers in the God of Israel will be called Christians.
The prophecy then does a fast forward to the time in the future when God creates a new heaven and a new earth and foretells of the millennial reign of Christ, which occurs between the time that Satan is bound for one thousand years (Rev.20:3). It is a time of peace when “The wolf and the Lamb shall feed together,” His people will dwell safely and His “elect will long enjoy the work of their hands” (verse 22).
So we can see from this chapter, along with the Apostle’s instructions, that God includes the Gentiles in His category of the elect and they are viewed as one with the remnant, the elect who have “sought Him” - Verse 10, confirming the New Testament’s concept of what it is to be a true Jew - someone who is completely separated to the Lord through faith in the Messiah Jesus.
In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul refers to the Gentiles as a “wild olive tree.” He tells us that the Gentiles were grafted into partake of the root (heritage/covenants) and the fatness (blessings) of The Olive Tree, meaning that we are now considered to be one with the Jews.- For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree; (Romans 11:16,17 ).
Gentiles are one with the “firstfruits,” the remnant according to the election of grace. -Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace (Hebrews 11:5).
Note that the Apostle says that some have been broken off because of their unbelief – some not all. We do not replace the Jew, this is not “replacement theology,” but we become Jews, separated to God, because through Christ we have been "grafted into" the holy remnant olive tree of God's elect (Romans 11:17). -
For they are not all Israel which are of Israel (Romans 9:6).- Jews who say they are Jews and are not – Revelation 3:9. - For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly – (For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature (Galatians 6:15); - and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God ( Romans 2:28,29). And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them and the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).
Jews and Gentiles that are one in Messiah Jesus are the Israel of God – the elect.
Israel has not obtained what he seeks for; but the election has obtained it, – (My people that have sought Me – Isaiah 65:10) - and the rest were blinded (Romans 11:7).
We have just been shown that there are two olive trees, one Gentile, one Jewish, joined as one. Let us keep in mind the image of the wild olive tree being grafted into the remnant olive tree, as we contemplate Manasses being grafted into the remnant in Chapter Seven.
Revelation seven, verses five through eight details the sealing of the remnant believers, and we observe that it lists all the original tribes - except for the tribe of Dan which is replaced by Manasses. –
Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand (verse 5).
Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand (verse 6).
Manasses was the fruit of Joseph’s union with a Gentile. The wife that was given to him by Pharaoh was actually the daughter of a pagan high priest (Genesis 41:45). It was strictly forbidden by God for His people to marry pagan wives, yet because of his circumstances; Joseph was joined to a Gentile.
The entire story of Joseph is a beautiful typology of the Gospel of Christ. Like Joseph, Jesus was betrayed by His brethren, but because of that betrayal Jesus became the provision for the salvation of the world. Joseph said to his brothers –
“Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you have sold me here: for God did send me before you to preserve life. And God sent me before you to preserve you posterity in this earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So it was not you that sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:5, 7, 8).
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Joseph’s marriage to an Egyptian is a prophetic picture of a time when Jesus would gather the Gentiles as one with the Jews and there would be one fold and one shepherd (John 10:16). When Jacob blessed Joseph before he died he told him that his sons and any of his offspring that he would sire after them would be included in the inheritance of Israel (Genesis 48:5, 6). In other words, they would be seen as Jews.
So we see through these examples, a symbolic picture of the Gentiles being “grafted in” to the Hebrew lineage through the Messiah.
Again, the Apostle Paul exemplifies this Scriptural fact in relation to the unifying work that was accomplished by Jesus’ sacrifice.- For you are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 4:26).
If the tribes listed in Revelation Chapter Seven were literal Jews, then there would be no additional symbolism to consider, Manasseh would not be seen here replacing Dan, and all the original tribes would be listed in their entirety.
The list of those tribes being sealed continues in verses seven and eight and the remainder of the original twelve tribes are named. –
Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand (vere 7).
Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand (verse 8).
The obvious omission of the tribe of Dan in this list of the sealed remnant, represents the Jews who were cut off because of their unbelief. Dan was the only tribe that could not obtain its inheritance and is representative of the Jews who say they are Jews and are not in Rev. 2:9 and 3:9.
Dan can also represent those apostate Christians who could not maintain their faith in the Christ of the Bible in the last days and succumbed to apostasy. When the atonement is denied by accepting all other religions as valid, then the branch is automatically snapped off the olive tree, whether it be a Jewish branch or Gentile.
The breaking off of the Danites represents the cutting away of the branches who have not believed that Jesus is the Messiah – the Jews who say they are Jews and are not.
The Danites were given an inheritance with the rest of Israel but could not obtain it. They were not strong enough to overcome their enemies, and they were driven into the mountains by the Amorites (Judges 1:34). They eventually conquered Laish, a weaker, defenseless city and renamed it Dan, (Judges 18:27-29) and built their religion around a stolen idol ( verse 30).
Their story emerges in the Old Testament Scriptures at a time in Israel when everyone did according to what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). This is symbolic of the spiritual condition that can also disqualify a believer from the firstfruits remnant category of Philadelphian believers. Samson was also a Danite, who did great exploits, but because he could not restrain himself from sinning, this spiritually weak strong man, died in his tribulation. His unchecked lust resulted in the loss of his sight which is symbolic of his spiritual blindness. There are Christians like Samson, the “Samsonites” that must learn to discard the “baggage” that has kept them from being included in the firstfruit, Philadelphian remnant category.
The remnant is modeled after those who are sealed in Ezekiel 9:4, the ones who “sigh and cry” over the abominations that are done in the church. Samsonites are not mourning over the sins in the church, they are partaking of them. Therefore this camp will be joined with those “Jews who say they are Jews and are not” to behold the remnant seed that God has promised to be kept from “The Hour” (Revelation 3:10). It is the will of God that all of His children be classified as His firstfiruits. Jesus said,- Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man ( Luke 21:36). We are actually being told to pray for the renewal and revival of the entire Christian church. Seek righteousness, seek meekness and perhaps you shall be ‘hidden’ in the day of the Lord (Zephaniah 2:3).
As we willingly begin to yield to the Holy Spirit within us that is working to conform us into Jesus’ image, then we will learn that with God all things are possible (Luke 1:37) and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).
The description of the “firstfruits” is embellished for us in Revelation 14:4, 5 – These are they which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits unto God and the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
To be guileless is to be like a child, and the remnant has come to Christ as He has told us, to come as little children.
Another description of the “Remnant” is found in Zephaniah 3:12,13 – I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. The Lord is their shepherd.
This group is not seeking worldly riches, they are poor by the world’s standards, yet rich, because they have learned that their treasure is in heaven. They are obediently following their Shepherd wherever His Spirit leads them. They are living holy lives, because they are yielding to the Holy Spirit who lives inside them and have “not been defiled with women.” This does not mean that they are literal virgins. Remember the bride that Jesus comes for at His second coming is referred to as a “virgin,” too (Matthew 25:1). This simply means that they have committed no sexual sin, or have fully repented of their sin and are not continuing in it. They practice true “religion" as described by James (James 1:27) and have separated themselves from the world and are wholly separated to God through the Messiah, Jesus. These are the Lord’s people who “know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law " (Isaiah 51:7). These are the circumcised in heart, true Jews.
Spiritually, they have retained a first century spirit-filled zeal and passion for their Bridegroom and have not neglected to make preaching the Gospel their primary goal and purpose, thus they have not fallen into the error of the Ephesians. They have refused to embrace aberrant doctrine; they have not preferred the precepts of men above the Word of God and married those foreign wives, like the church of Pergamos. And the remnant has rejected Jezebel’s advances and not been compromised by her enticements as the church in Thyatira. The firstfruits would choose martyrdom rather than deny that Jesus is the only way to the Father, and their names remain embedded in the Lamb’s book of life as an example to those of Sardis, and the passion of their union with their Bridegroom, leaves them with nothing in common with the lukewarm Laodiceans.
In Chapter Fourteen, where the description of the remnant is found, we are told that it is the hour of His judgment – the great tribulation. And here we see the remnant elect of God, the 144,000, in a position of safety and protection with the Lord on Mount Zion, because these “sealed” ones are “the inheritors of His mountains” (Isaiah 65:9). They sought Him and found Him in the intimacy this mountain represents, the symbolic mountain where Moses and Jesus partook of this same intimacy with the Father. The church this remnant has become receives the Philadelphian promise to be kept from this hour. These are the ones who have kept his Word and not denied his name (Revelation 3:8).
We have just been shown along with John, an isolated portrait of the Philadelphian remnant that is to be kept from the hour of apostasy and the hour of God’s judgment which begins in Chapter Fourteen. Now the vision the apostle is witnessing changes again and he suddenly is beholding an unlimited multitude. –
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; (verse 9).
They are clothed in white robes, which is the righteousness of the saints (Rev. 19:8) which is bestowed upon them through faith in the Messiah Jesus.
Let’s skip ahead to an excerpt from verse fourteen where we are told who these ones are; -
“These are they which came out of great tribulation.”
I believe that in this vision, John is being shown every saint from every age that has endured suffering rather than deny their faith in Jesus. In turn, among these ones is the church of the last age who has also refused to deny their faith, whether it is a Christian being harassed on the job, or a martyr in a jungle.
Because we are told that they have come out of great tribulation, we are possibly also being shown those Christians who were not among the Philadelphian remnant and were “left behind” to be refined in the furnace of affliction and have graduated to this place of exaltation at the foot of God’s throne.
Here let’s stop a moment to consider the implications of being among those whom God has permitted to endure the period of time described from Chapter Fourteen to Jesus’ return in Chapter Nineteen- the “Great Tribulation.”
In Chapter Two we are shown that unless there is repentance, Jezebel and her children will endure great tribulation (Rev. 2:22). The Laodeceans will also be rejected for their Lukewarmness and will endure trials to refine them (Rev. 3:16,18).
God says in His Word He is not willing that any shall perish (II Peter 3:9). He is also not willing that any of His people go through the hour or He would not have admonished us through Jesus to pray that we are worthy to escape. While salvation is a free gift imparted to us by faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord, our blessings have always been based on obedience. We reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). We receive rewards based on how we build upon our foundation in Christ. -
Now if any man build upon this foundation (Christ)gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he has built upon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so by fire (I Corinthians 3:15).
Some build with gold and silver, some with wood and stubble. Obedience and sacrifice are the gold and silver medal winners here in these verses. We all must live with the consequences of our choices, good and bad. But we also have a wonderful promise in the Word of God – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
God uses the refining fires of our trials to prepare us for future glory. Those who are His and must endure the hour and who do not fall away, cleaving to Him through the fiery furnace of their afflictions, are greatly rewarded and greatly needed. These ones who have been left behind are not condemned but are called “blessed and holy” for these are the ones to be harvested when Jesus returns, and they are part of the first resurrection. They will behold the face of their Beloved as He comes to gather His elect at His second coming (Matthew 24:29-31, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18). They are the last testimony of God’s Word in the final moments of this prophesied generation. And for the sake of this elect the time will be shortened – after all, compared to the years and days mentioned in Revelation, this time period is only just referred to as an “Hour” (Rev. 14:7).
The Scriptures give us an unusual precedent for the removal of one worker and the remaining of another. Elijah was a prophet at the time when Ahab ruled Israel, (or should we say, when Jezebel ruled through Ahab?). After mightily demonstrating the power of God to the equivalent of an apostate church, Elijah was “raptured” or carried away by fire and wind, both symbols of the Holy Spirit.
And it came to pass, as they (Elijah and Elisha) still went on and talked, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven …II Kings 2:11.
The prophet Elisha knew this was going to happen but was unprepared for the dramatic suddenness of the event. Previously he had asked for, and did receive after Elijah’s removal, a double portion of the prophet’s powerful anointing and Elisha was “left behind” to carry on the work and the testimony of the pure truth of God’s Word to a corrupt church and government. Both of the prophets had specific jobs to do and when the time of the first prophetic dispensation was fulfilled and completed, the mantle was transferred and Elisha continued the work with tremendous anointing.
We have a possible precedent here for events in the future when the Philadelphian remnant elect are removed and the remaining believers are refined to continue God’s work. God is assembling His troops and engineering all of us into our respective future roles and there is a specific purpose and plan for every member of the body of Christ.
We return to our place with John as he continues to witness the celebration of the overcoming church at the foot of God’s throne.
The apostle John, hears this God’s people instigate an inspiring unanimous expression of praise. –
And cried with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” (verse 10).
The enormity of the gift of salvation that has been given and received by this multitude is offered back to God as a means of gratitude for the magnitude of their deliverance.
Their cry causes the angels that are surrounding the four beasts and the elders to respond. –
And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,…(verse 11).
Let’s keep in mind that these angels were the guardians of this multitude and were witnesses and helpers through the sufferings of those who were placed in their charge. They were intimately involved with those who now are among the redeemed before the Lord and these angels share in the gratitude of this multitude for the faith that has saved them. -
Saying, “Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen” (verse 12).
The use of the word “Amen” is a Hebrew custom. When spoken at the beginning of a discourse it means, “This is true.” When said at the end it means, “So be it.” It is an expression of faith and truth, and here it is used twice as bookends to God’s accolades.
At this point in the vision, John is approached by one of the elders and he is asked a question. –
And one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these which are arrayed in white robes? And where did they come from?” (verse 13).
John responds honestly, he does not know. And we are given the answer again in this fourteenth verse. –
And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (verse 14).–
These are the faithful who have not denied their Lord, and the atonement. As Jesus defines the Father, the cross defines the Messiah, His coming and His purpose. The strategy of the antichrist is to remove the atonement from Christianity; to make it just one of many ways to an apostate version of God. The multitudes of the faithful in this vision John is witnessing are those who would and have given their lives to keep from denying their salvation and the fact that Jesus is the only way to the Father. They have washed their robes in the blood, the atonement of the Lamb and it is His blood, and His blood alone that makes them righteous. –
Therefore they are before the throne of God…
Their faith in the atonement has put them in this place of honor and made them worthy to stand in the intimate presence of the God of all creation.
…and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sits on the throne shall dwell among them (verse 15).
This means that those who have God dwelling amongst them are experiencing a “high” of unimaginable spiritual ecstasy. In God’s presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). The sorrows that have befallen this multitude along their earth journey, are swiftly forgotten as they are bathed in all the wonders that accompany being in the sweet presence of God.
My husband and I used to live on a wooded camper lot in New England. It was a narrow half acre, approximately seventy feet wide by three hundred feet deep. The ground gradually ascended to a secluded spot at very back of the property. Even though that half acre was located in a neighborhood with houses, when we retreated to that particular area on that property, it was as if we were in some remote wilderness location.
One day many years ago, I was praying in that wilderness spot among the trees. I suddenly felt the Holy Spirit descend on me with an intensity I had never experienced before. It was as if an enormous bubble of pure joy had been released upon my soul. It was overwhelming. I really don’t know how to describe it, except that for a few brief moments in time, I believe I was privileged to experience at least a portion of “the fullness of Joy” that accompanies God’s presence.
When the intensity of that experience eventually dissipated, I was eager to share what had happened to me with my husband. I raced back down the incline dodging rocks and roots until I found him three hundred feet away near the shrubs by the driveway. Breathlessly I blurted out what I had experienced, and he responded by telling me that the same exact thing had happened to him at the same time! We were both ecstatic and blessed by the miracle. We also both had the distinct impression that the joy of the Lord's presence we had felt was a prelude to His second coming.
At least I have been privileged to experience a small portion of what it must be like to be in the presence of God, and I can imagine that this scene in John’s vision is infused with an exuberant joy that is far beyond the apostle’s ability to describe.
When God dwells among His people, they are encompassed by the security of His love, and no more will they be subjected to the results of sin’s influence upon the earth’s climate. -
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat (verse 16).
Here we need to stop a moment to remember that those among this group are the saints that have gone through the great tribulation (verse 14). The reference to the sun’s heat, shows us that they were there during the time when the sun was growing hotter, just before the Lord’s return as prophesied by Isaiah (Isaiah 30:26).
The environmental plagues that are released in Chapter Eight affect one third of the planet (Rev. 8:7-12) gradually increasing over the earth until they affect one hundred pernt in Chapter Sixteen (Rev. 16:3,4). Thus the sun’s heat is intensifying and we are shown in Chapter Sixteen that “men were scorched with great heat (verse 9). This is not so much the result of “global warming” as it is the Lord’s judgment allowing men’s sins to fall back upon themselves for their rebellion against God.
While some of God’s people will endure this time on earth, we are shown here the reward their faithfulness and endurance has earned them. -
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes (verse 17).
With the increase of heat, there is drought and famine. Here we see Jesus comforting His people with sustenance and refreshing living waters. The wounds of the past disappear with the loving touch of God’s hand upon their faces as He gently wipes their grief away forever.
As we look back over Chapter Seven, it becomes a wheat field and the harvest is getting ripe. We see the entire church of God growing together as the time of the end is approaching. The firstfruits are sealed, and being prepared for their removal. They are enduring tribulation for the testimony they hold and in Chapter Eleven, just before “The Hour” in Chapter Fourteen, which is the great tribulation, the two olive trees, the candlesticks, the remnant bride that has not quenched the Spirit of her Beloved, listens to His Still Small Voice shout “Come up here.” In divine ecstatic rapture, the bride is joined with her Bridegroom on mount Zion, the mountain of intimacy.
Much of the harvest remains to be gathered into His embrace in a future that will be shortened (Matthew 24:22) for this elect that remains when the Bridegroom comes a second time to reign on earth after the great tribulation. The Danites, the Jews who say they are Jews and are not, will turn to Messiah at last, and those who remain of the five churches that have been left behind to endure the hour will have learned that God blesses those who obey Him and they will be gathered in victory, received as the Lord’s elect. Laodicea has come through the fires of her purging, Jezebel’s children have learned to repent, and they with the rest of the Danites, have done the exploits witnessed by the prophet Daniel – But the people that know their God shall do exploits – Daniel 11:32.
We see them all again in the vision described in Chapter Fifteen, the gathering of those who have come out of great tribulation and have gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass singing their praises to the One they have learned to obey and have not denied His name, therefore they have the assurance that He will not deny them (11 Timothy 2:12, Matthew 10:32,33).
The bride of Christ is being called out of the chaos and darkness of this present world to stand with her bridegroom in victory upon the devil and all the evil he has generated from the beginning of creation to this present age.
And in this finale of time, like Pharaoh’s army, those four evil horses of the Apocalypse that have trampled and pursued God’s people through the ages, are demolished by a greater army that accompanies Jesus when He returns. And the wave of righteousness that descends and removes the wicked, will instigates songs of praise to God from His people. The bride whirls in her victory dance like Miriam on the shores of the sea that has buried her enemies, and the church that has been redeemed from every age sings together rejoicing, “ The horse and His rider He has thrown into the sea.”
Revelation Chapter Six | Revelation Chapter Eight
copyright 2016 by H.D. Shively
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