Things to Come, Lesson 21, The Great Tribulation, Part 9, Revelation 8
In previous lessons we have been given from Godís word a description of the opening of the seven seal book.
The first four seals opened to us a revelation of the four horsemen of the apocalypse who brought peace and war and famine and death, the fifth seal opening gave us a view of the martyred saints under Godís altar, and the sixth seal opening ushered in the day of Godís wrath by means of a great earthquake.
Chapter six ends with this announcement.
17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
So I believe that the opening of the sixth seal is where God takes direct charge and brings to the corrupt earth his judgment upon all who refuse his grace.
And we will see as we study the opening of the sixth seal that the great day of his wrath is exercised solely by God without the aid of men.
The four horsemen of the apocalypse brought the acts of man but the opening of the sixth and seventh seal reveal the acts of God.
His wrath is to the inhabiters of the earth, those who believe that only that which can be seen, touched, heard, smelled, or tasted is real.
Those to whom there is no reality to faith, no reality to anything outside of what science can discover.
Last week we completed our study of the sixth trumpet announcement of the seventh seal opening.
The first trumpet of the seven seal announced the burning of a third part of the trees and all green grass.
The second trumpet revealed a great mountain burning with fire cast into the sea and a third of the sea became blood, a third of the seaís creatures died and a third of the ships were destroyed.
The third Trumpet brought forth a great star burning as it were a lamp causing one third of the rivers and fountains of waters to be polluted which brought much death.
The fourth trumpet revealed heavenly changes for the sun, moon, and stars shone with greatly diminished light.
The last three trumpets, 5, 6 and 7, of the seventh seal are denoted as Woes.
The first woe takes place in a period of five months where God directed and God equipped locusts with special powers are sent throughout the earth, not to kill, but to torment all those who have not the seal of God in their forehead.
These are the inhabiters of the earth
The second woe is greater than the first woe for the first event of this woe brings the death of one third of the earthís population.
God directs the loosing of four angels with an army of 200 million creatures who will bring Godís wrath throughout the earth.
The second woe ends at Revelation 11:14, however within the description of this woe chapter 10 reveals to us a command to John to seal up things which seven thunders uttered.
He was told earlier to write those things which were to be revealed to him but now in this chapter he is told to write not that which the seven thunders uttered.
Revelation 10, And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: 2And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, 3And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. 4And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. 5And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, 6And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: 7But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
8And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. 9And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. 10And I took the little book out of the angelís hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. 11And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
We see here that John the Apostle is given a little open book.
He has previously been told to seal up what seven thunders have revealed to him but now he is told to eat the little open book and then told that he is to prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues.
He eats the book, perhaps it is the seven sealed book, now open, and in his mouth it is as sweet as honey; but the moment it reaches his innermost parts it is bitter.
In our study we have been given to see events as bitter as any could experience but they are not bitter without reason.
God has first provided a message of grace, redemption, and peace.
Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Could a message be any sweeter to the laboring man or woman.
John wrote that most sweet of verses in his Gospel: 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
But what is left for those who reject the honey of grace from Godís hand, only judgment is left, bitterness is left to all who turn away.
To eat is to make the thing oneís own, to incorporate it into oneís being.
Donít we do the same when we take of the communion wine and bread.
Jesus said, Take eat, this is my body, drink, this is my blood.
Now when John eats the book, it is first sweet but then becomes exceeding bitter in his innermost being for it reveals to him the message he is to proclaim,
First the wonderful Gospel of Jesus Christ but also the terrible, horrible judgments of Godís holy fury as sure to come as any promise of scripture.
Yes, this is the age of grace but we as proclaimers of Godís word are to be careful to not only give out the honey of the Gospel but also to warn of that great judgment to come, a bitter judgment, but a judgment so made to purify for the coming of the King.
For the wrath of God is a reminder of the holiness of God and a measure of Godís hatred of sin.
Godís wrath is proportionate to the unrighteousness which provokes it.
We may not think it is a measured response, but it is in that Godís response, being so terrible it simply shows us the extreme awfulness of sin.
The immensity of Godís wrath toward sin is an indication of His holy hatred of sin.
We who are made in His image ought to hate it as well and knowing Godís coming wrath should make us uncomfortable with sin.
In addition, we should never forget that our sin resulted in the suffering and agony of our Savior on whom Godís wrath was poured out.
We now move into the second event of the second woe announced by the sixth trumpet of the seventh seal.
A lot of numbers here but God does all things decently and in order and all these things will be fulfilled to the letter and all these things will make sense to us at some time.
Right now we simply have a skeleton of what is to take place in the Great Tribulation period.
I have chosen to avoid conjecture and simply bring out what God gives to us word for word.
If Godís word is not to be taken literally I believe God will say so in his word.
The second event scheduled to take place at the 2nd Woe (6th Trumpet) concerns the holy city of Jerusalem.
It is to be trod under foot by the Gentiles for 42 months, a period of three and one half years, or the later half of the Tribulation period.
We read of this in Revelation 11:1,2, And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
There has not been a temple in the holy city, Jerusalem, since it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
But now John is instructed to measure the temple of God and the altar but told to leave out the measure of the court which is without the temple for it is given unto the Gentiles.
This is not a heavenly temple for its location is on earth and its holy city is under the domination of the Gentiles.
We see in this passage the appointment of John to the position of land surveyor.
One of the necessary things to do before taking possession of land is to measure the land and here we see an act which shows Godís possession of the temple and altar but without possession of the court without for it is given unto the Gentiles.
Now one of the great things about measuring land and structures is that the measuring act brings intimacy of knowledge of that which is being measured.
The order to rise and measure the Temple, in other words, is Godís way of drawing His people's attention to his principles and laws.
Jesus Christ will rule and reign soon from this very land and will rule by these principles and laws.
During this period one third of the worldís population will be killed and terrible things are happening but God wants to open the eyes of the multitude of new believers to his eternal principles and laws.
For we are given to know that Gentile control of the holy city is to only remain for 42 months.
In other words God is telling us that the court and the holy city will be controlled by the Gentiles for a limited time but then after this period they will not, and Godís new order will begin.
The times of the Gentiles is a Bible period with an beginning and an end.
We know of the beginning for it took place with the captivity of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar.
We are still in the times of the Gentiles, for from that day unto now, Jerusalem has not been under the complete control of the Jew even though Israel became a nation in 1948.
It is still protected because of Gentile power.
Israel cannot do to Jerusalem what it desires, for Gentile powers have to be dealt with.
Just compare Israelís wailing wall with the Muslims Dome of the Rock structure and you will know that Jerusalem is under the control of the Gentiles.
But here we are given by God that this will come to an end in 42 months from the time John is told to eat the little book.
So John in this passage is speaking at the beginning of the last half of Danielís seventieth week, the half which is called the Great Tribulation.
This passage then, is prophetic in that the end of Gentile domination means that God, through Jesus Christ will dominate the holy city in 42 months.
These words bring forth the initial progress of the actual taking possession of the earth by our, and the earthís Savior, the righteous Heir of all things, the Lord Jesus Christ.
God has been working toward the taking back of his creation since the Garden of Eden and now he tells us here that it is to be only 42 months until its realization.
Remember the first horseman of the Apocalypse, the one who brings peace, but in the midst of the seventieth week the peace is broken.
It was a short time of control but now in the last half of the seven year period we are told that the Gentiles will trod under foot the holy city.
The Anti-Christian nations will pretend friendship with the Jew during the first half of the reign of the Antichrist, but these same people will turn and in vengeance and horrible terror trod them under their feet.
But all will be met by Godís wrath and his rescue of His people.
Zechariah 14:1-9, Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
4And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. 5And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. 6And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: 7But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
8And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. 9And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
So the measuring of the temple and the altar is a divine call to obedience, a call which is directly linked with the message of the Two Witnesses, that are spoken of in:
Revelation 11:3-13, And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. 7And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. 11And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 12And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. 13And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.