Although the Reformation churches began in a flaming fire of zeal, they soon died down and whitened to the ashes of a dead orthodoxy. This is followed by the church of Philadelphia, of which the Lord has nothing evil to say, nothing to correct.
He commends it because it is true and faithful to the word. It has a little strength, he says, and this pictures the church age of the nineteenth century, when the church is awakened and thrust out into the far corners of the earth in the great missionary movement of the last century. The last church is the church of Laodicea, the rich church, the church that says, "we don't need anything from God at all.
We've got money, influence, power; that's all we need. Don't you know you don't have anything; that you are wretched and poor, pitiable and blind? I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire. If, as I have suggested, these letters outline the record of history, then it appears that we are in Laodicean times. Now beginning at chapter four, a change takes place. Notice he says again what is a key word in this book. As he was "in the Spirit" in chapter one, so he says here:. At once I was in the Spirit and lo, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne!
The scene shifts now from earth to heaven. Now that does not mean somewhere out in space. In the Bible, heaven is really the realm of the invisibilities -- another dimension, if you like, wherein God reigns hidden from our eyes but present among us -- a spiritual kingdom which surrounds us on every side, but which we cannot taste or touch or see. And yet it is very real. This kingdom was opened to John and he saw a throne, the One who sat upon it, and immediately he knew who it was -- he did not need to be told.
It was the throne of God, and God was in control of all history. What John saw here is a remarkable vision of the powerlessness and the weakness of man, but the greatness and the might of God. John saw a throne, and then he saw a Lamb standing in front of the throne, a Lamb with its throat cut. That may seem a strange symbol for the Son of God, but it is a very apt one -- a Lamb that had been slaughtered. And somehow, as John watched, that Lamb turned into a Lion, and John saw that the Lion, who was the Lamb who had been slaughtered, was also the King of all.
He stood before the One seated upon the throne, who held in his hand a little book, a book that is very significant in the book of Revelation; it is the program of God for the establishment of his kingdom on earth. In heaven he rules unchallenged; on earth his will is constantly being challenged by pigmy men who dare to lift their fists against the authority of God.
But he is going to change all that, and he is going to do it by the Lamb who is the Lion, who alone has the right to take the book actually, a scroll and unfold it. And as the seven seals of this book are loosened, the scroll unrolls until at last what is written on it is plain to all. John weeps as he first sees the scroll, thinking that no one has the right to open it; but then he sees the Son of Man, and he knows that he alone has the right to unfold the scroll that will produce God's kingdom on earth.
As the scroll unfolds, we see that there are seven seals. The number seven appears frequently in this book. We have already seen the seven churches, and now there are the seven seals, each one revealing a new power at work on earth.
These are followed by seven trumpets, and then seven vials -- or bowls, of the wrath of God. Let us look briefly at how these fit together. In chapter six we read about the beginning of this period of seven years which, the prophet Daniel tells us, is going to be the culmination of history, toward which all the events of our present day are moving. That seven years will be introduced by a worldwide preaching of the gospel as we learn from our Lord's talk to the disciples on the Mount of Olives.
In the book of Revelation, the church as a unit is viewed first, followed by historical events concerning the rest of the world. In light of this, I believe the church is caught up to be with the Lord prior to the period of seven years' tribulation, and that the first event of that age is the worldwide preaching of the gospel, symbolized by the first of these seven seals:. And I saw, and behold, a white horse, and its rider had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
White is always the color of divine being, representing purity and holiness. And the bow speaks of conquering; here is the conquering of the gospel. Jesus had predicted this when he said, "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that men should slay one another; and he was given a great sword. Might not that great sword symbolize the terrible power of the nuclear bomb, released upon humanity?
This is the second thing to come, John says, followed immediately by the third horseman, symbolizing famine, which is inevitable in the wake of worldwide war. And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him; and they were given power over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
Now what John is seeing in these seven seals are the forces at work in humanity to produce the events of history in these last days. Human power is therefore prominent throughout this time, and we see what God allows to happen by the force and power of human beings. The fifth seal is an expression of the inward power of mankind, the prayers of the martyrs. This is followed by cosmic disturbances, which provide a key to the entire book:.
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale; the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. The earthquake here gives us a clue to understanding this book.
The final event previewed here in the sixth seal, is always marked by the great earthquake, hail, and fire. That is the end of the seven-year period, described by Jesus when he said, "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven," Matthew. This will happen just before the return of Jesus Christ with his church back to earth.
This time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love, or irresistible horror into every creature. To Jew And Gentile. This book is about what Paul and his associates were doing before he learned about the love of Christ. The seals that are opened. Now Babylon was the source of ancient idolatry, and it is a picture of what we might call religious godlessness -- that which looks godly but in its essence is actually godless; a religion which outwardly commands the power and attention of men, but which inwardly is devoted to trying to exercise political power by use of religious authority. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Amazon Rapids Fun stories for kids on the go.
The seventh seal summarizes the events of the last half of this seven-year period, unfolded in chapters ten and eleven, where we again encounter the earthquake when the seventh trumpet sounds:. Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, loud noises, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. Chapters twelve, thirteen, and fourteen introduce to us the great actors in the scene on earth. First of all, a woman who is recognizable as Israel brings forth a manchild, whom history has already informed us is the Son of God.
Against him in a great conflict are arrayed the angels of the devil and the great dragon called Satan. As John watches, a beast rises up out of the sea, and John was given to recognize that the beast was a form of human government linked to Rome, the fourth great world kingdom spoken of by Daniel. In some form, the Roman Empire is to exist until the end of time. If you look at our western world, I think you can see how true that is. Every nation of the western hemisphere was settled by a member nation of the Roman Empire.
We are Roman to the core; the whole western world is Roman in its thought, philosophy, and attitude. Associated with this beast out of the sea is another beast, or religious leader, which rises out of the earth and whom many link with the antichrist. Chapters fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen by and large contain the description of the vials of the wrath of God, which are exactly the same as those terrible judgments of which Jesus spoke when he said the sun would be darkened, the moon turned to blood, and God's wrath would be poured out upon the earth.
And in the latter part of chapter sixteen and continuing on through chapters seventeen and eighteen, you find the judgment of the great religious harlot called "mystery Babylon the great. Now Babylon was the source of ancient idolatry, and it is a picture of what we might call religious godlessness -- that which looks godly but in its essence is actually godless; a religion which outwardly commands the power and attention of men, but which inwardly is devoted to trying to exercise political power by use of religious authority.
Now if you read this through carefully I think you will see that this mystery Babylon is not any one system, or denomination, but rather an attitude that permeates the entire church. Wherever you find anyone acting religiously, trying thereby to gain political power or authority, you have Babylonianism, and it is found in all churches. As Jesus said, referring to the tares sown among the wheat, "Let both grow together until the harvest," Matthew And in chapter nineteen you have the harvest, which was predicted in chapter fourteen:. Then I looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.
And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat upon the cloud, "Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe. That harvest actually occurs, as described in chapter nineteen, when Jesus Christ returns to earth:. Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. Learn more about Amazon Prime.
Ray Stedman guides you on a verse-by-verse exploration of the book of Revelation, bringing to life the mysteries of this highly symbolic book of the Bible. God's Final Word encompasses and brings into brilliant focus the entire scope of human history—of eternity itself. Read more Read less. Kindle Cloud Reader Read instantly in your browser. What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
God's Final Word: Understanding Revelation and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle. God's Final Word - Understanding Revelation Paperback – October 1, “The book of Revelation is the scariest book in the Bible,” says Ray Stedman as he begins this. Editorial Reviews. From the Back Cover. “The book of Revelation is the scariest book in the God's Final Word: Understanding Revelation - Kindle edition by Ray Stedman. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or.
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Paul the Chief Sinner. This book is about what Paul and his associates were doing before he learned about the love of Christ. How far would you go to save a life? Thought-provoking, intense Christian fiction. Do you often feel overwhelmed by the never ending demands of a fast-paced modern world? Get this book and stop getting swayed by your circumstances.
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