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A Walk Through Revelation - Part 21


Revelation 10 
The Angel and the Little Scroll

10 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.”
Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”
So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’[a] 10 I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”
In verses 1-2, we see an "angel" who seems a lot like Jesus - when he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. John was about to write down what then said, when he was told to "seal it up and not write it down".

Seal it up where? I think he was meant to think about it. Mull it over. Consider the ramification of what was said. Because what was about to unfold needed to be felt and absorbed by the prophet in order for him to proclaim the events to come with clarity.

Next, he was told to take the little scroll from the angel's hand and eat it. At first it was sweet, but then it turned his stomach sour. This little scroll was a look into the upcoming events - a look into the future. Who doesn't wish they could look into the future a bit? It seems like that would be a good thing - sweet, but if we really saw the future, it just might sour our stomach.  The events about to unfold were going to happen with unrelenting speed, ushering the world to the end of time as we know it.  I'm sure what John saw was enough to set his head spinning.

Having experienced the future by absorbing it first, prepared John to pour out the coming prophecies with an urgency that all but begs people to wake up and see what's coming...and repent.

That's exactly what reading through Revelations has done to me. It makes me want to beg people to seriously consider the reality of God and the future of man. Each person must choose for himself whether to follow God or to reject Him. I pray you will make the right choice.

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A Walk Through Revelation - Part 20


Revelation 9:13-21
The Sixth Trumpet


What would it take
for you to cry out to God?
13 The sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice speaking from the four horns of the golden altar that stands before the throne of God, 14 saying to the sixth angel, “Release the four mighty demons[c] held bound at the great River Euphrates.” 15 They had been kept in readiness for that year and month and day and hour, and now they were turned loose to kill a third of all mankind. 16 They led an army of 200,000,000 warriors[d]—I heard an announcement of how many there were.
17-18 I saw their horses spread out before me in my vision; their riders wore fiery-red breastplates, though some were sky-blue and others yellow. The horses’ heads looked much like lions’, and smoke and fire and flaming sulphur billowed from their mouths, killing one-third of all mankind. 19 Their power of death was not only in their mouths, but in their tails as well, for their tails were similar to serpents’ heads that struck and bit with fatal wounds.
20 But the men left alive after these plagues still refused to worship God! They would not renounce their demon-worship, nor their idols made of gold and silver, brass, stone, and wood—which neither see nor hear nor walk! 21 Neither did they change their mind and attitude about all their murders and witchcraft, their immorality and theft.

As God's judgement continues on the inhabitants of earth, we see demonic forces unleashed and a mighty army marching out to destroy mankind. Their power to anhilate man is limited to 1/3 of the population, but the devastation is horrendous.

The most interesting portion of this passage for me is that in the face of all this, people still refused to worship God.  The world is coming to an end. Plagues, death and destruction surround them. Their one hope is God, who, should they call out to Him, would quickly forgive their sins and accept them as His own, but they refuse to do so. Instead, they cling to their idols, their wealth, their security. They continue in their wicked ways, still believing that they don't need God.

It's hard to believe that people would refuse to turn to God in the midsts of all this, but isn't that just what's happening today? We are hearing of increasing horrors across the globe. Our financial security is fading fast. Every foundation we've built our lives on is shaking.  This is the beginning of the end, my friends. God is trying to get our attention. He wants us for His own...and if that means allowing or bringing tragedy into our lives in order for us to recognize our need for Him and His love for us, that's what He's willing to do. 

It's not going to get better. It's going to get worse. God has a timeline. There is a "year and month and day and hour" appointed for the events of the end times to occur.

My heart's cry is for each of you to know God. To enjoy the incredible joy that comes from having a personal relationship with Him...now. Not sometime in the future when your life is crumbling all around you.  Reach out to Him, now and invite Him to come in...to be the Lord of your life. Surrender your all to Him.  You don't need fancy words. You don't need words at all, really. What you need is a heart that cries out to Him. He will meet you where you are.  You can do that right now.

I pray you will.


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A Walk Through Revelation - Part 19

Revelation 9:1-12
The Fifth Trumpet


The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10 They had tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).
12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.

woe -great sorrow or distress.
synonyms:misery, sorrow, distress, wretchedness, sadness, unhappiness, heartache, heartbreak, despondency, despair, depression, regret, gloom, melancholy;

What horrors will befall mankind as a supernatural plague of demonic spirits is unleashed upon those who reject God. I can't imagine what John thought and experienced when he saw this vision of future events. It's terrifying to even think about!

There's nothing I can add to this passage of scripture, except to say that we don't know when these events will take place. It could be 1000 years from now, or it could be today. Either way, it would be foolish to ignore (or reject) God's offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. You'll not only spare yourself from these horrors, you'll experience a wonderful and intimate relationship with your Creator from this minute on until you meet with Him in Heaven.

How do you enter into this relationship? Find the answer here.

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A Walk Through Revelation - Part 18


Revelation 8:6-13 (NIV)
The Trumpets
Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
10 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— 11 the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.
12 The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.
13 As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!”
Ok, now we know why there was complete and utter silence in Heaven for about a half an hour when the seventh seal was opened and those watching got a glimpse of what was to come. Seven angels were given seven trumpets - trumpets used to herald in horrifying, catastrophic events that destroy parts of the earth.

At this point, I, too, feel the need to fall silent. I have no words to explain what I just read. I believe it. I know it will happen, but I am overwhelmed at the thought of it. It seems cruel and I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the loving God that I know doing these things. Why? Why?

Ok, I confess - I had to keep reading and long about the end of chapter 9, I found the reason. Believe it or not, these destructive acts are perpetrated for a loving reason.  We'll get there, but before we do, we'll take a look at the fifth and sixth trumpet effects.

On a side note - did you notice the in verse 11 that the star was named Wormwood? It reminded me of a book I once read - The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. One of the characters was named Wormwood.  The short story is a series of letters between Wormwood (a novice demon) and his Uncle Screwtape, a devil high in the Infernal Civil Service. Wormwood's mission is to assure that his assigned "patient" (an ordinary man) never received salvation through Christ. When he fails at this task, he is given instructions for tempting and distracting the new Believer.


The Screwtape Letters is a timeless classic on spiritual conflict and the psychology of temptation which are part of our daily Christian experience.



I know this kind of book is not for everyone, but I found that it really opened my eyes to the schemes used by Satan to pull us away from a vibrant walk with Christ.  The writer of 2 Corinthians mentions being alert and aware of Satan's schemes.
 ...in order that Satan might not outwit us.
For we are not unaware of his schemes.
2 Corinthians 2:11
While I don't focus on Satan, because he has been defeated by Christ, I am aware that his goal is to destroy God's people or at the very least, draw their hearts away from God and lure them into temptation. Knowing this keeps me on my guard against any thing he might try to disrupt my close relationship with my Savior.
 
If you would like to read it, you can pick up a copy at almost any Christian bookstore, order it online, or read a free copy in your browser or download an epub copy here - http://www.epubbud.com/book.php?g=DLJWXYQK .  You can also download a free discussion guide for the book here - https://www.cslewis.com/images/ckfinder/642/pdfs/TheScrewtapeLetters.pdf
 
 Next post, we'll look at the 5th & 6th angels and what happens when they blow their trumpets.


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A Walk Through Revelation - Part 17

The Seventh Seal and the Golden Censer
Revelation 8:1-5
Shock & Awe!

When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
We've finally come to the opening of the seventh seal. In previous seals, Jesus opened them and all the inhabitants of Heaven, along with the Apostle John, who was just visiting saw what was contained in the seal. Something's different about this one. When it's opened, there is absolute silence for about a half an hour.

They were in shock & awe. Why? I read ahead in the chapter and the events that are about to unfold upon the earth next nearly took my breath away!

Seven angels are given seven trumpets. One might think that they're about to give a lovely concert, but one would be very wrong! Just before the angels step up to blow their trumpets, another angel comes forward and offers burning incense before the throne, which is mixed with the prayers of all God's people. We've seen this before - our prayers coming up before the Lord. Does that thrill you the way it does me?  Sometimes we wonder if our prayers are going anywhere. They just seem to bounce off the ceiling, but that's not how it is. Each whispered prayer, each cry of the heart, goes up before God. He hears them, He sees them, He is touched by them.  Keep praying, my friend. We have no idea what has been changed because we prayed.

Then the angel fills the censer with fire from the altar and hurls it to the earth, setting off peals of thunder, rumblings and flashes of lightning and an earthquake to end all earthquakes.  The first angel steps up and prepares to blow their trumpet. You won't believe what happens next.

Now, don't read ahead...ah, go ahead if you want, but come back here for the next post so we can walk through these seven trumpets together.


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A Walk Through Revelation - Part 16

Revelation 7:1-8
Salvation during the Tribulation

a creative commons image
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

The Great Multitude in White Robes

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
    will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
    never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’[a]
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
    will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’[b]
    ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’[c]
When I first started reading this chapter, I got hung up on trying to figure out who the 144,000 people are, and here's the answer - I don't know.

What I do know is that they are Jewish, they received a seal that marked them for God. Further on in Revelation 14, they are mentioned again...

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.  Revelation 14:1-4
 So, if these precious souls are the firstfruits, who follows after them?

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. 
A great multitude follows them. Where did this multitude come from?

 “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
So, there's the answer to the question, "Can people be saved during the tribulation?"

Yes, they can, but...

If a person has a hard time believing in God because of the trouble and injustices in the world today, how much harder will it be to have faith in God during the tribulation?
If a believer struggles with temptation and sin now, how much harder will it be to live a holy life during the tribulation?
If you have a hard time standing up for your faith now, how will you remain faithful in the face of persecution to the point of death if you won't deny the name of Christ?
If you've "heard the old, old story," but thought you have plenty of time to start a relationship with Jesus Christ after you've had your fun, got married, had kids, raised those kids, reached your career goals...you might want to rethink your thinking.




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A Walk Through Revelation - Part 15


Revelation 6:12-17
The Day of Destruction
photo credit: SpaceShoe [Learning to live with the crisis]
  via photopin cc

12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the 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 their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

Honestly, the first two verses of this passage read like a Hollywood end-of-the-world script. I don't think even Indiana Jones could survive these catastrophes; an earthquake that's off the Richter scale, the sun turning black, the moon looking like blood, stars falling from the sky enmasse, the heavens receding, mountains and islands moving from their places - who could live through that? What would you do?

I'll tell you what you would do. You'd do the same thing I'd do, the same thing that the Bible says the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty and everyone else - the poor, the man, the woman, the child would do if they were able. You would run for cover, but since the whole earth had been shaken, there would be very little cover. You'd find a cave somewhere and cower in fear for your life.

You'd wonder what was happening. What was behind it all. You couldn't explain it away as an evening newscasters might - terrorism, aliens, natural disaster. No, when this day comes - and it will come - anyone left huddling in those caves will know without a doubt that this is the judgement of God for all the evil that has been done on the earth. 

They will beg to be hidden from the face of God. There won't be any debate about whether or not there is a God. No one will be arguing theology at that point. They will be on their knees, their head in their hands, wishing they has listened to their Mama's teaching about God. Wishing they hadn't slept through most of the Sunday sermons they'd heard. Realizing that skipping church to play golf or go fishing might not have been the wisest thing to do. Scripture will come to mind, regret will gnaw at their souls. They'll pray, they'll plead, they'll cry out to the God they've been ignoring all their lives, but will it be too late?

I don't know - I'm not God. I don't know whether there will be one last chance for them to surrender their lives to the One who loved them enough to send His Son, Jesus Christ to pay for their sins by dying on the cross. What I do know is that it's just foolish to wait until that day to wake up and realize that God loves us, that He wants to spare us from these coming events. He made a way if only we will reach out to Him and receive the gift of forgiveness. If only we will begin that amazing relationship with our Creator that not only gives us abundant life here and now, but promises that we will not see these catastrophes, because we will already be with Him in Paradise.

 Please don't wait. Open your heart to God, now. 


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