Glorifying God

The Little Book of the Revelation - Seventeenth and final in a series

This series is a call to Christians to prepare for persecution. There is no one or way to prepare you outside of the Lord through his Word and your prayers.

  • Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you, which cometh upon you to prove you, as though a strange thing happened unto you: but insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy. If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you. (1 Pet 4:12-14)

We have observed an orderly sequence of seven seals, seven trumpets and three woes, and finally, seven bowls. Yet, not all of the end-time prophecies revealed in the chapters of the Revelation are presented sequentially; prophecy does not follow a linear path but may take a circuitous route, and will be clarified through words that echo through the Testaments.

This study has proposed that the first woe is a prosecution of conscience upon those who are firmly rooted in evil. The second woe is part of the message of the Little Book, that an end to the day of grace will arrive. The third woe is enforced in the seven bowl judgments. Thus, we see that the unsaved are heavily pressed to consider their sins before losing the opportunity to repent, after which they are finally damned.

I have suggested that the two witnesses of the Little Book symbolize mature Christians whose testimony will be made effective by God’s grace. They will join their martyred brothers and sisters from previous generations in God’s throne room as the Beast and his minions persecute them during the time of the Great Tribulation until the last ones of them who are killed but not buried, are resurrected. This event will convict the remnant of the Israel of God who will join them in life everlasting.

These concepts are not presented dogmatically. I hope this blog series will help to establish the true religion, as we noted in Post 1 that Sir Isaac Newton stated that a study in Revelation ought to do. It has presented many Scriptures without insisting on a particular interpretation so the reader can more easily reflect upon the events of the endtimes.

The reason the Lord chooses us in the furnace of affliction is for his glory. (Isa 48:10-11) “Jehovah trieth the hearts.” (Pro 17:3)

  • Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me;
    Thou wilt stretch forth thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies,
    And thy right hand will save me.
    Jehovah will perfect that which concerneth me:
    Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, endureth for ever;
    Forsake not the works of thine own hands. (Ps 138:7-8)



The Little Book of the Revelation - Fifteenth in a series

The scene turns dark as India ink poured into a well. We bend to look, perplexed, but see no edge nor level.

These next verses of the Little Book remind us that the darkest hour is before the dawn, and we think of the many encouragements in the Revelation to be overcomers or conquerors, and to be patient to the end:

  • To Ephesus: To him that overcometh, to him will I give… (Rev 2:7)
  • To Smyrna: He that overcometh shall not be hurt of … (Rev 2:11)
  • To Pergamum: To him that overcometh, to him will I give of… (Rev 2:17)
  • To Thyatira: And he that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give… (Rev 2:26)
  • To Sardis: He that overcometh shall thus be arrayed in … (Rev 3:5)
  • To Philadelphia: He that overcometh, I will make him a … (Rev 3:12)
  • To Laodicea: He that overcometh, I will give to him to… (Rev 3:21)
  • Here is the patience and faith of the saints. (Rev 13:10)
  • Here is the patience of the saints, they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Rev 14:12)

And think of all the encouragements in Scripture to wait on the Lord, to endure, to keep the faith! A few references: Psalm 37:34, Matthew 24:13, Hebrews 10:38. Even we may be more than conquerors! (Rom 8:37) Let us run with endurance the race that is before us (Heb 12:1) and mount up with wings like eagles (Isa 40:31) as events close in.

Zion is a wilderness (Isa 64:10)

  • VERSE 7
    And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.

God determines when the end will come, and by then, Christians will have completed the work of preaching the gospel. Next comes their death in the Lord (Rom 14:8); the beast who gained his power from the dragon (Rev 13:4) has worn out the saints of the most High. (Dan 7:25)

  • The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. (Isa 57:1)
  • VERSE 8
    And 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.

Where is Zion? Where is the city of our God? The people of the Lord are not comforted but they are despised. Should they rejoice in their sufferings— do they complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of the church? (Col 1:24) — Understand, this has nothing to do with the cross of Christ but of ministry that is an agony, for if we endure hardship, we will also reign with him. (2 Tim 2:12)

When will the great city be ‘a praise in the earth’? (Isa 62:7) How long will it be before death is swallowed in victory? (1 Cor 15:54) Do we not have the mantle of Elijah, and can we not proclaim with Elisha, “Where is Jehovah, the God of Elijah?” (2 Ki 2:14) Why must we die in captivity, in Egypt, and why in Sodom, the place of final judgment?

  • Wherefore should the nations say, Where is now their God? (Ps 115:2)
  • I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. (Jer 23:14)
  • VERSE 9
    And 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.

The unsaved relish the demise of the saved, and wait three and a half days, keeping them in view to ascertain their souls should no longer hover nearby, and to verify they are dead. Rabbis taught that it took the soul three days to transition to the afterlife, so, does this scene reflect that belief?

Now we see that the ‘peoples, tongues, kindreds and nations’ were not only the saints but also their tormentors. Jerusalem is not only the city of God where we are born and live in Christ, but it is also the place of terrifying contrast—of blind zeal and slavery to sin, where our Lord was crucified.

This confusion of opposites must be resolved. We cannot continue in strife and darkness.

  • It is time for You to act, O LORD, For they have regarded Your law as void. (Ps 119:126)
  • And I will wait for Jehovah, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. (Isa 8:17)

The goats and sheep must be separated, the wheat and chaff divided.

  • VERSE 10
    And 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.

The people who are blind and rebellious show their delight by sending one another gifts to celebrate because their consciences were tormented by the Gospel. Obviously, one can be without spiritual vision, evil in thought and deed, yet nevertheless have some semblance of a conscience that is urgent to quiet.

Prev | Next

God will help us

The Little Book of the Revelation - Seventh in a series

In the previous post we looked at passages of Scripture that describe persecution of Christians in the last days. We were exhorted to have patience in the tribulations. We were warned not to take the mark of the beast which will be an I.D. to enable buying and selling.

Reviewing the warnings in Revelation 13 and 14 took us away from the chapter by chapter lead up to Revelation 11, but were viewed as relevant to the focus of this blog series– the contents of the Little Book. Before taking up Chapter 8 when the seventh seal is opened, let’s look at a final warning and consider its relevance in the context of Chapter 16.

In Revelation 16:15, before Armageddon (Rev 16:16), there is a warning, presumably to believers: “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rev 16:15 ASV)

In some versions of the Bible, this verse is enclosed with parentheses and in some, by quotation marks. These are the words of Jesus Christ.

My opinion is, that warning is not timely, that is, possible to have effect at that point in the end-days timetable, since the judgments of Revelation 16 are unrelenting and final. Perhaps it is instead a strong reminder to the reader that the time to commit your life to Christ is NOW. Delaying can only lead to that moment when time is collapsing at a rate that exceeds your capacity to decide or act. (Ps 32:6)

Be forewarned, by watching and remaining covered by God’s armor (Eph 6:10-17), one will keep his standing and will not be in the company of the ones who will confront the thief in the night as those caught off guard.

Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5, instructs the congregation:

  • But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief:
  • for ye are all sons of light, and sons of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness;
  • so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober.
  • For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that are drunken are drunken in the night.
  • But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.
  • For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
  • who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (1 Th 5:4-10 ASV)

This passage encourages us not to worry that we will ‘miss the boat.’ Christians are ‘of the day’; we stand firm by the armor of Christ, and we will know when the events of the end are materializing. We will not take the mark of the beast and be caught up in the rush toward Armageddon.

Some believe that following a ‘rapture’ of believers there will yet be a time on the earth when people can come into the kingdom, finding salvation in Christ. Thus, this warning (in Rev 16:15) could be timely in the midst of the Chapter 16 judgments to those latecomers to the faith. In this view, the rapture is a separate event from the resurrection.

A belief in the rapture is in part based on the Lord’s words in Matthew 24 and Luke 17, that some will be at the wheel grinding or in bed or in the field when others are taken at His Coming—

  • …and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man. Then shall two men be in the field; one is taken, and one is left: two women shall be grinding at the mill; one is taken, and one is left… (Mat 24:39-41)

Those who believe in a Rapture do not associate the ‘taking’ of some people with Paul’s prophetic words that after the dead in Christ rise first, those who are alive are ‘caught up’ with them, (1 Th 4:16, 17) but would regard that as the time of resurrection. They also point out that it is not reasonable to think that the ‘distress of nations’ and shaking of the powers in heaven described in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 would occur simultaneously with the people sleeping, grinding at the mill or farming.

We might say that it is a reasonable assumption that even those in captivity could be among those asleep or grinding at a mill or farming, as prisoners. For some it may seem to be a relatively normal time up to the last moment, but not for all. These matters are difficult to discern, but all would agree that the return of the Lord will be preceded by unusual disturbances in nature and that the second coming will catch many by surprise. We also know that the Son of Man will come after the darkening of the sun and moon and the final shaking of the heavens, and that after that time he will come to ‘gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’ (Mat 24:31)

Important to note: The saints are then gathered from the four winds and from the heavens, not from the earth. So, are they in the air, the winds, by a rapture or because they were resurrected? Are they, including the dead, at that time clothed in their new bodies or are they only spirits? The apostle John wrote:

  • Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

This verse tells us that those being gathered from the four winds will be clothed in their resurrection bodies, for we shall then see him as he is, and that is the proof that we shall be like him.

Does it matter whether a person believes in a rapture or that the rapture is the resurrection of the righteous? Perhaps it could matter if one did not mentally address the prospect of intense suffering by Christians, true Christians. Though we escape the final bowl judgments, a time of the great tribulation is assigned to us, Christians, beloved of the Lord.

How can we prepare for cruel suffering? To answer this, we return to Christ’s admonitions to the seven churches: Hold fast to your first love; pray earnestly to be close to the Lord; love others through deeds, forgive debts; put away all known sin. God will help us.

All will be well, even if the all the waves and billows of God crash over us. (Ps 42:7-8)

Prev | Next