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Revelation chp 15 - Hell the Unexpected Consequence of Holiness - JS Gillespie  

 

Although set in a future time of judgment and tribulation, chapter 15 of Revelation contains truths and insights too good to be left till the future. This is a chapter which shows us afresh of God's power to turn victims into victors and which demonstrates God's sovereign power over the wickedness of men. Men may plot and persecute to have God's people put out of this world but an exit from this world quickly becomes an entrance into the Glory of heaven under teh hand of a sovereign God!

We glimpse the Glory of the Divine character in chapter 15. Judgment emerges from an unexpected source here! Out of the sanctuary and the Divine Glory and presence the vials of God's wrath are carried and consecrated by angel's hands! Divine wrath and justice is displayed before the world as the awful and awsome consequence of Divine holiness.

Revelation chapter 15 vs 1 to 4 - The Sign The Sea The Song - JS Gillespie  

 

Revelation chapter 15 vs 1 to 4 traces the destiny of those who trusted the God of their strength, never flinching and refusing to let go until He became their salvation. As they stand upon the the crystal sea now mixed with the fires of affliction, they stand perpetual testimony to the God who is able to turn the victim into a victor. Here is the great secret of Christian trial and affliction that we have a God who is able to empower us to emerge butterfly like from the catastrophe of persecution and turmoil. The enemy in his hatred and cruelty may well have chased them to the brink of extinction at the edge of the sea but this was merely God's preamble to opening up the path before them for an eternal entrance to the habitation of God. They were like the Covenanter Martyrs of 1685, Corson and Hair; "Unknown till persecution dragged them into fame and chased them up to heaven"

What a God! What a Saviour! What a Lamb!

A message preached as part of our systematic study series on the book of Revelation by Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Revelation chp 14 vs 14 to 20 - How Long - To be Faithful Fearful and Fruitful - JS Gillespie  

Bible teaching from Revelation chapter 14 verses 14 to 20; the two judgments of Revelation chapter 14 of the world and of Israel. Man may be impatient for judgement, God is not! He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. God does not merely react to sin! God is sovereign over man and works purpose through even a world in rebellion. We ought not to underestemate the sovereign power of a God who is able to bring good from the slavery and betrayal of Joseph, the murder by Moses and the rebellion of Jonah. After cries which echoe through the Psalms of David, the service of the disciples, the sanctuary of Daniel and the sousl of the saints of Revelation chapter 6; cries of "how long?" finally the answer is "now". Here is God's perfect judgment in God's time. From a systematic exposition of Revelation by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.

Revelation chapter 14 vs 6 to 13 - The Everlasting Gospel of the Mid Heavens - JS Gillespie  

 

Take a step down from the mid heaven of the lamb and the 144,000 gives a completely different view of the future, not for the redeemed but for those marked for judgement. The middle section of chapter 14 is a story of missed opportunities, misstaken allegiences and men marked for judgement. The everlasting gospel is declared, but symbolically out of reach of those upon the earth. This is a gospel declared in the mid heaven, a gospel of conviction but with no conversion of fear but no faith. Dissolving before the eyes of men is the delusion of safety in the crowd. There is no longer comfort and security in the demonically inspired Babylon, the world and it's systems have fallen, fallen and with it all who took shelter in it. A bible teaching message preached as part of our systematic series of studies in the book of Revelation - Dr J Stewart Gillespie, Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock. Graceinchrist.org

Revelation chapter 14 - A Letter Written A Song Sung - JS Gillespie  

Christian hymns, Old Testament Psalms (Psalm 2) and Biblical prophecies all look forward to Christ reigning in Zion; the Holy and royal mountain of Jerusalem. Well here He is; Christ in Zion, in Revelation chapter 14. John paints the picture, gives us a snapshot of Christ on mount Zion! It’s here He has finally arrived, but it's not what I would expect of:

  • The Son of God
  • The King of Kings
  • The Lord of Lords
  • Creator
  • Redeemer
  • Judge of all things
  • Miracle worker

It’s the picture I might anticipate of one who is:

  • Omnipotent
  • Omniscient
  • Omnipresent

“Yet have I set my King upon my Holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6)

I wasn’t expecting to see a lamb there! Maybe a lion!

Yet the path from earth to heaven and glory, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords has taken as a lamb.

That’s interesting that we should find the lamb on Mt Zion

We find the lamb in all sorts of places:

  • On the altar (Gen 22) – sacrifice
  • In the fire and flame (Ex 12) – suffering
  • In the mouth of the lion (1 Sam 17) – Satanic attack
  • Led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53)
  • Bearing away the sin of the world - As the Substitute

Finally we find the lamb here; on the throne (Revelation 4); in heaven (Revelation 14)

This path of the lamb by way of:

  • Sacrifice
  • Suffering
  • Satanic attack

Is the path followed by those whom we find here in heaven. The route to the destination is the same.

They have followed the lamb all the way to Zion.

Some claim that we ought not to be ‘prisoners to our past, it’s a lesson, not a life sentence.’ There is some truth in that, but not much!

The biblical view of our past is far higher than being ‘free from the prison’ of the past and the past is certainly no lesson, it is the real thing!

If the past is but a lesson for today and today is but a lesson for the future. Where is it that we put into practice these so called lessons? When do we actually graduate from school into the real world! This of course is the real world!

No doubt lessons should be learned but regarding our life as merely a lesson is way short of the profound depths which God attaches to our life here and now.

Our past is not a prison from which we ought to regard ourselves as liberated from, our past is

  • what in part moulds and shapes us and produces character in us (Romans 5:1ff).
  • Theatre in which is worked out our service for God, the race is run, and as such reward can follow on.
  • The arena of sin and error; a place where ripples extend out into eternity, to the judgment seat and to others

Our past is way more serious than a prison from which we might seek freedom.

Our past does indeed teach lessons, but it has eternal consequences for us and consequences for others, which we cannot ignore nor erase. Consequences not only of:

  • Education
  • Retribution
  • Reward

Once we face up to the reality of this, once we grasp the truth of this, this will lead us to:

  • Repentance
  • Redemption
  • Reward

As well as

  • Education

There is by far the greater path of:

  • Salvation

We are far more than prisoners of our past

We are products of our past

A past that is not merely a lesson in life but a past that is life itself, real life with ripples running off into eternity.

The 144,000 arrive in heaven, sounding like the lamb (14:2) with a “voice of many waters” and with a “new song” that no man could learn.

Anyone could read the lyrics but they could not learn the song

Anyone could learn words but they could not learn the song!

Anyone could follow a tune but they could not learn this song!

Many could play the music but they could not learn the song.

This was a song played on the heart, not only upon the harp (v2)

Like Christ who ‘learned obedience by the things which He suffered’

Learning is a change brought about from experience

At times in life we complain, we are resentful, become bitter, get discouraged.

At times we desire an:

  • Easier life
  • Smoother path
  • To take it a little easier
  • Put our feet up
  • A bit less hassle

This path is the path to mount Sinai

This is the path which brought the Son of God to Glory

This song was and is the product of their lives.

This is the song that makes us sound like Christ!

  • Bass notes of suffering
  • The treble clef of lifes melody
  • The sharps of excitement
  • The flats of disappointment
  • The rests of recuperation
  • The repeats of routine
  • The majors of life’s dominant themes
  • The minors of less significant

 

We may be an epistle written and read as Paul reminds us but our life also produces a song that is sung and nothing need be wasted.

From a systematic bible teaching series from the letter of Revelation by Dr J Stewart Gillespie, preached at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock. Free to download messages and free to view online. 

 

Revelation chapter 14 - The Heart - The Hymn book of Heaven - Faskally 2022 - M6 - JS Gillespie   

Great songs are born of deep experience. Some of the richest treasures of human expression arise from our deepest emotions of love, both fulfilled and frustrated. From lessons learned in deep anguish arise the expressions of heart uniquely tuned in the life and experience of every believer. To heaven these 144 000 bring a song so unique that only their life and their experience is able to give expression to it. 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie at Faskally House Families Week 2022 - Tell me There's a Heaven. 

Revelation chp 7 - Heaven - Better than we Hoped, Closer than we Realised - Faskally 2022 - M5 - JS Gillespie  

Heaven is the expected conclusion to the life of faith. The path to heaven is fragranced with the presence and provision of the God of heaven. As pilgrims heavenward, the one to whom we go is the one who goes with us. We drink of the well of the living waters of Christ, as he promised to the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4. We hear His word of revelation and enjoy an ongoing relationship with the Saviour day by day. When heaven finally comes the summit is to the believer no surprise. With every step upward we feel the strain in our muscles, the tension in our tendons, the cool dew condensing on our hair, the air becoming thinner and the sun a little brighter. Heaven is the conclusion to a life of faith. We know the way because we know the person.  
 

From a series of messages on the theme of "Tell me There's a Heaven" given at Faskally Families Week in 2022 by Dr J Stewart Gillespie

The Book with 7 Seals - Revelation 5 - Faskally 2002 - M4 - JS Gillespie  

 

Trace back the fuse wire to the detonator that triggered the pouring out of the 7 vials of judgment, the fall of Babylon the Great, the battle of Armageddon, the sounding of the 7 trumpets, and the opening of the 7 seals, will lead you to this book in the hand of God in Revelation chapter 5. Whatever this book is, it contains the secret of all subsequent judgments and catastrophes in the book of Revelation which are to befall the world. Whatever it is, this book is important. Despite the fact that loosening the seals to open the book leads to global environmental, economic and spiritual melt down following in the wake of war, famine, disease and demonic attack, this is a risk worth taking.   

The 4th message in a series of studies in the book of Revelation given at Faskally Family week 2022 on the theme of "Tell me There's a Heaven" by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.

Revelation chapter 4 - Glory beyond the Sea of Glass - M2 - JS Gillespie - Faskally 16th October 2022  

The anticipated ecstasy of hymns, the crystal sea pictures the absolute, transparent holiness of God. Solomon was commissioned to reflect the pattern in the sea of his temple, provided for the cleansing of the priesthood. In this solid sea of glass, washing from sin and defilement is eternally out of the question. Nothing that defiles can enter into the dwelling place of God. Access to God's Heaven has as it's requirement holiness. It is a condition of entry and not a consequence. Absolute purity, the kind of righteousness that only Jesus Christ can provide, purchased by His blood and freely given to those willing to receive salvation by faith alone.  

This crystal sea marks the boundary conditions of heaven. It is both heaven's floor and earth's ceiling. It is the extent of man's experience of the Divine when sought without Christ; a barrier of solid holiness.  
Revelation chapter 5 paints a picture of the character and nature of the God of heaven: 

 

  1. Lion like in His Sovereignty 
  2. Calf like in His salvation 
  3. Man like in His incarnation 
  4. Eagle like in the transcendence of His Spirit 


Get a glimpse of Glory 
Get a glimpse of God

From a series of messages presented at Faskally House Family Week 2022 by Dr J Stewart Gillespie on the theme:

"Tell me There's a Heaven" 

Heaven - A Place of no Surprises - Faskally 2022 - M1 - JS Gillespie - 15102022  

It has taken 4000 years for the Spirit of God to introduce us to heaven. Heaven is a place of many surprises, but perhaps the greatest of all surprises is that there are so few surprises! Heaven has a door; a door we know of well from John's gospel. Heaven opens with a voice familiar; that of Jesus Christ. Heaven is the throne room of God. Upon the throne of heaven we see one like a Jasper and Sardine stone; one who is the Son of God's right hand and the Son of His mother's sorrow. The throne is surrounded by a rainbow of covenant keeping glory; echoing the one who is life and light.

Here is heaven.

Here is the God of heaven.

This is the God we know.

This is Jesus Christ.

The first of 6 studies in the book of Revelation presented at Faskally House, families week in 2022, by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.

Revelation chapter 12 - The Fury and the Flood - JS Gillespie  

Perhaps like myself you find the book of Revelation somewhat daunting with it's ultiplicity of interpretations which is  somewhat off putting! Perhaps you can identify with the sentiment of one writer who quipped that there was only one person who understood Revelation and he is at home in the glory!
It is a book of complex symbols and language.
The subject matter; doesn’t really make for easy reading and is not overtly comforting, at least on the surface that is! This is perhaps typified by the transmission of the Greek title for Revelation “ἀποκάλυψις” into the English language, and is now used for catastrophe and disaster in epic proportions. 

Revelation is indeed a book of catastrophe and disaster for the world: 

Revelation is a boook containing the extremes of: 

  1. Personalities – Christ and the Devil 
  2. Places – Heaven and Hell 
  3. Problems – global and eternal destruction 

7 seals 
7 trumpets 
3 woes 
7 vials 
4th Seal sees ¼ of the world’s population destroyed 

6th trumpet witnesses 1/3 of the world’s population destroyed! By the time we reach chapter 12, at least ½ of the world’s population has been wiped out! It’s not a cheery read! 

Don’t let that put you off! 

Ignore the book of Revelation at your peril! 

There is at least one great reason not to ignore this book: 

Revelation at least in part deals with the extremes of disaster and catastrophe! 

If you believe, as I do that God is: 

  1. Sovereign over the problems of life “all things work together for good” 
  2. Sufficient in His grace “my grace is sufficient for you” 
  3. Supreme in His power “all power is given unto me…” 
  4. Solution to all of our problems “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) 

Then in these extreme experiences of: 

  • Trial 
  • Testing 
  • Suffering 
  • Persecution 
  • Problems 
  • Discouragement 
  • Difficulty 

We see God’s extreme solutions! 

If God is able to deal with the extremes, He is surely sufficient for our problems and our needs too!

In Revelation chapter 12 people experience: 

  1. Personal Failure – The Flesh 
  2. Satanic Fury – The Devil 
  3. Persecutory Flood – The World 

God has His provision and His solution in the extremes of these conditions and experiences! 

  1. Fury of the Devil 
  2. Flood from the World 
  3. Failure of the Flesh 

All 3 are inter-related! 

It is the fury of Satan which directly causes the flood of persecution from the world (vs12-15). 

It is the failure of the flesh that hinders victory over Satan and gives the accuser fuel for his fire (v10-11). 

Power to overcome the accuser (v11) holds the key to their personal victory! 

The flood of persecution is the product of Satanic fury! 

Israel couldn’t see that of course in Revelation chapter 12, but nonetheless the spiritual battle was happening above them, over them and they were caught in the crossfire between heaven and hell. There will be many spiritual battles of which we are unaware but feel the shockwaves in our lives and souls.

Cosider the fury of Satan revealed here in Revelation chapter 12:

Know your adversary 

Don’t imitate his character 

Note the description of his character: 

  1. Destroyer (v4) cf. John 10 
  2. Deceiver (v9) 
  3. Accuser (v10) 

Satan characterised as deceiver. 

Deception often linked with intelligence! It is so here of course. 

Intelligence is often required to pass off a good deception! 

Spoof emails and phone calls, fake social media accounts, malicious phone calls etc! 

Normally intelligence employs deception for the goal of personal gain. They want what you have! For Satan though the scenario is different! 

Satan is under no delusion that he could stand ultimately to gain from these deceptions (12:12), he knows that his time is short. Ultimate gain is not on the horizon for him! 

What could possibly motivate him? 

The very essence of Satanic character: malicious envy! 

Satan isn’t deceiving to personally profit from it but rather that you might lose, that you might be destroyed. This is malicious, destructive, satanic, envy!

Cf John 10:10 

Sufficient for Satan to drag you down, bring you down, get you down and keep you down! He will strive to ruin you at every turn! 

Flood of persecution in the world 

Satan having fallen from heaven (12:9), turns upon the people of God. 

Satan falls from heaven to earth and to hell. 

It is interesting that as Satan falls further and further, the glory of Christ fills the void, as the morning star and as King of Kings and Lord of Lords on the earth. 

When the world and the Devil send the flood God always has His refuge for His people 

“And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Isaiah 32:2 

For: 

Jacob and his sons in famine there was provision in Egypt 
Moses on the run as a fugitive there was refuge in the backside of the desert. 
Israel caught between the armies of Pharoah and the Red Sea, there was a path through to the promised land 
Samaria in the famine and siege of 2 Kings chp 7 – respite and refuge comes through the actions of 4 lepers at the gate of the city. 
David there was the cave of Adullam 
Jonah there was the provision of the whale 
Elijah a morsel of meal in the widow of Zarephath’s house 
Elisha a place in the home of the Shunammite 

For: 

Israel a way through the red sea and ultimately into the promised land 
Elijah a way up 
Jonah a way down and out of the depths 
Daniel a way out of the lion’s den 
Thief on the cross a way into heaven 
Noah a way over the flood 

God is always able to provide a refuge in the storm, always able, since His refuge is a person! 

“And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Isaiah 32:2 

If a man is a hiding place, then that hiding place, isn’t restricted to a place, but is always available as a person! 

Sometimes the means of that provision comes from the most unexpected of sources! 

The unlikely gentile widow 
The unexpected provision from Joseph, a son sold as a slave 
The terrifying whale 
An unassuming little maid of Naaman 
An improbable coin in a fishes mouth 

Failure of the flesh 

The failure of the flesh give substance to the accuser, adds fuel to the fire and keeps the believer down, hinders their recovery. 

There is overcoming victory (v11) by

  • Blood of the lamb 

Provision for forgiveness and recovery 

  • Word of Testimony 

Power of a changed life 

  • Total commitment 

Proof of nothing being more important than the Lord

 

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Revelation chapter 12 vs 1 to 9 - The Rise and Fall of Satan - JS Gillespie   

 

The prophetic book of Revelation, that gives us a glimpse into the future for this world, also contains a few unanticipated surprises! 

Revelation also gives us a glimpse into: 

Heaven (chapters 4 + 5) 
Hell (chapter 9) 
Satan (chapter 12) 

There are not that many passages of the scriptures that deal with the Satanic personality, although in many places we perceive his influence. 

Revelation chapter 12 gives us a glimpse into the: 

  • Destiny 
  • Disaster 
  • Demise 
  • Desires 

Of Satan 

In chapter 12 we learn to recognise Satan as God reckons with Satan. 

We gain a glimpse into the ultimate destiny of Satan elsewhere in the scriptures although we do have to join the dots and put the pieces together. 

The man of the Gadarenes – those who follow Satan and who are obedient to him, must yet bow to a supreme authority, that of Christ! That does not bode well for Satan! Their end is in the Abyss 
The testing of Christ in the wilderness – we often perhaps reflect on the character and nature of that temptation, the opportunism of Satan after 40 days of fasting, Satan’s misuse of the word of God and the means of defeating Satan with the sword of the Spirit and the Word of God! One simple of aspect of the testing of Christ in the wilderness that we ought not to miss of course 
“Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31) We note the attack on Peter, but perhaps we ought also to note the ultimate victory of the Spirit of God in the life of Peter, as Peter knows recovery and restoration and becomes stronger for the experience! 

Satanic activity is sovereignly controlled and attenuated 

We need perhaps to put these pieces together to see the whole story. 

Here in verse 1 we have a symbol of Satanic destiny 

Sometimes looking back we see a significance that perhaps we don’t see at the time. 

“moon under her feet” 

The glory of Israel is in the sun (v1), the brightest and most glorious natural object which is known to us. 

The moon is under her feet; the moon once worshipped by Israel, the moon that rules the night is under her feet! Israel has dominion and victory over the one who rules the night. Victory is guaranteed! The end is declared from the beginning!

 

Notice the principle of spiritual gravity which we find here in Revelation chapter 12, seen so clearly in the rise and fall of Satan, but which we can also perceive in the rest of the word of God.

You can pretty accurately predict the destiny of a personality from the impact they make on the lives of others. You can predict an individuals destiny from the direction they give to others,

If you want to know where they are going, look at where they are taking others! 

Where they are sending others is where they are heading themselves. 

Pharaoh – cast the children into the river Nile (Ex 1:22), into a watery grave is where Pharaoh and his armies ended up! (Exodus 14:28) 
Ahab and Jezebel – lead the nation into Baal worship and the pursuit of the demonic, unfaithful to their God. Ultimately Jezebels subjects proved equally as unfaithful to her and that was her undoing. The authority of God and His commandments which she undermined and destroyed, was the foundation of all human authority and order, as is the case today. 
Belshazzer led his people into blaspheming the items of the temple; he and many of his subjects died under Divine judgment. 
Elimelech led his family to Moab and he died there. 

Consider also on the positive side: 

It was the apostle Paul who lifted so many up, and led so many to Christ. Is it not so appropriate that he himself was taken up into the 3rd heaven! What about the apostle John? It is John who is the disciple of love, life and light. It is John in his gospel who leads us to the Deity and glory of the Lord Jesus. How apt it is that it is John who gives us the book of Revelation, leading us into heaven itself! Here is the principle of spiritual gravity!

We can predict a personal destiny from the direction they point other. 

It is difficult to take others or direct others in a direction we are not travelling in ourselves. 

We can predict a persons destiny form the direction they give to others. Here we have this principle worked out in the spiritual realm. It is Satan with his malevolent influence who draws down a third of the stars from heaven to earth. You could predict his end I am sure from this! After the angelic host are cast down (12:4) Satan follows the same trajectory, downward to the earth (12:9)!

Notice also in Revelation chapter 12 the principle of spiritual gravity:

It was no coincidence that as Moses descended Mount Sinai with the two tables of law written by the finger of God, that Satan had made a pre-emptive strike and that waiting there for Moses was a pre-constructed golden calf!  

It was no coincidence that placed next to the throne of Egypt were two Satanically inspired magicians; Jannes and Jambres, ready to sway the mind of Pharaoh as the voice of God echoed throughout the land in plague and pestilence.  

It was no coincidence that Tobiah and Sanballat were on hand to discourage and to attempt to destroy the walls of Jerusalem as Nehemiah fulfilled his commission to rebuild for God!  

Here too in Revelation chapter 12 we perceive exactly the same process at work. As the time approaches for Israel to bring forth Messiah; "when the fullness of the time was come..." in Revelation 12:2; God was ready. At that moment so too was Satan ready; ready with an attempt at annihilation, with the slaughter of the innocents, ready with persecution, temptation in the wilderness, rejection from the synagogue, isolation from society, false accusations, and ultimate execution at Calvary!  

If we share the life of that same Saviour we too can anticipate to share the unwanted attention of Satan! Be ready! Be prepared, but not only for attack, but ultimately for victory through Christ!  

From our systematic bible study series in the book of Revelation

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

GraceinChrist

 

Revelation chp 12 vs 1 to 5 - How to be on the Winning Side - JS Gillespie  

 

God is in the business of rendering men and women unrecognisable. He is the God who transformed Jacob from a thief and a conman to the judge of the 12 tribes of Israel. He is the God who made a sovereign out of a shepherd, a priest out of a murderer, a law giver out of a law breaker, a philanthropist out of a fraudster! It is little surprise that the recurrently dysfunctional Israel appears here in Revelation chapter 12, clothed with the most glorious of all natural objects (1 Co 15:41; Rev 21:23), the sun. 

The woman of Revelation chapter 12 may appear unrecognisable, but Israel she is. She is the nation who gave rise to Messiah, whose remnant perceivers through the days of tribulation and who ultimately will rise to the place of pre-eminence amongst the nations of the earth, for which God had always fitted her. Her secret of triumph and victory is the same as ours. The battle she faces is part and parcel of the same cosmic struggle as ours too. We may at times be oblivious to the spiritual battle unfolding behind the scenes but we ignore it at our peril. On rare occasions we gain an insight and get a glimpse into what is actually taking place in the spiritual realm.

  • The deliverance from Egypt was effected by Moses but in the midst of Satanic opposition (Ex 7:11, 22).
  • The trials of Job were only the tangible expression of a conversation between Satan and God. 
  • The prayers of Daniel were hindered by the same cosmic conflict 
  • The person of God's Son knew the trial in the wilderness and the attack on the cross
  • The denial of Peter proceeded from the attack of the wicked one 

In all of these cases, God's people triumphed and did so glorious, having discovered the secret of being on the winning side. It was their connection with Christ that brought certainty and victory (Revelation 12:2,5). The victory which is His becomes ours. 

From a series of bible teaching messages preached from the book of Revelation at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.

Revelation chp 11 vs 14 to 19 - 5 Good Reasons to Worship and Everything going Well isn't one of Them - JS Gillespie  

 

A surgical incision into the closing section of Revelation chapter 11, reveals an unexpected heart beating at it's centre! After 7 seals and 6 trumpets and a third woe pending, this section gravitates around a nucleus of worship (Rev 11:17). This may seem to some a surprising conclusion to death, disease, catastrophe, global conflict and demonic attack upon the earth! Yet we ought not to be surprised at all. It was:

  • After Israel apostatised in worshipping the golden calf and the tables of the law were smashed that Moses worshipped
  • After Job had seen the death of his family, the destruction of his home and the decimation of his wealth that Job worshipped
  • Surrounded by the apocalyptic destruction of Jerusalem, the wall and the temple that Ezra worshipped 
  • On the storm tossed boat with their life in jeopardy that the disciples worshipped
  • Possessed by a legion of soul wrenching demons that the Gaderene worshipped 
  • Whilst he was dying and leaning on his staff that Jacob worshipped

Revelation chapter 11 verses 14 to 19 give us five good reasons to worship and everything going well with the world and our lives is not one of them! We can rejoice that God is in control of:

  • The woes that befall the world - ordered and announced by Him
  • The world and it's kingdoms 
  • The wicked and their judgment 
  • The reward of the godly 
  • The worship of the one true and living God 

His word is settled forever in heaven. Despite what we may perceive as the chaos and catastrophe of the past we cannot on that basis predict the plans of God! 

Revelation chp 11 vs 1 to 13 - The Last Revival - JS Gillespie  

 

 

Grace upon grace, God has poured out on a fallen world. Generation after generation, God adds to His grace. It is almost as if century upon century God is declaring that He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). By the time we reach Revelation chapter 11 many a mercy has moved towards man. God's dispensations or administrations have rolled through creation, conscience, government, law, grace and tribulation. In each movement of the Divine hand God calls men to repentance and to Himself. 

Here in Revelation chapter 11, God brings all of His movements of mercy to a pinnacle. The miracles of Moses, the signs and wonders of Elijah (11:5-6), the plagues of blood and drought, the power of the Spirit of God (11:4) and all under the shadow of the cross, rain down upon man. Some respond, a remnant turn to give Glory to the God of heaven (11:13). 

Tragically many reject the message of God. With even greater catastrophe they confuse the message as the product of the messenger and not as the revelation of God. Gloating and glorying over their corpses, the product of the satanic attack of the Beast, the rejoicing of the world is premature. God is still on His throne and 3 and a half days into their death, resurrection power raises them again from the dead. 

A study in Revelation chapter 11 from our systematic series of expository bible studies in the book of Revelation. 

Yours by Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Revelation chp 11 vs 1 to 6 - Gods Place Gods People Gods Power be Part of it - JS Gillespie  

 

It's not every day that a man out does God! Death defying is a frequently used phrase but on only two historical occasions have men actually achieved that feat! The Old Testament contains two strange anomalies. Both Enoch (Genesis 5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2) pass from earth to heaven, from time to the eternal without passing through death. This is not only an intriguing record but it also challenges the truth of Hebrews 9 :27 "it is appointed unto man once to die". Did they manage to escape and defy death? Mor importantly did they find a way around conforming to the pattern of Hebrews 9? Fast forward a few thousand years to Revelation chapter 11. Two witnesses appear in Jerusalem at the mid point of the tribulation period. There is something distinctly familiar about this pair! The impact of their ministry extends for a period of 3 and a half years, like that of Elijah (James 5:17), they call down fire from heaven; like that of Elijah (2 Kings 1), they stop the rain, again like Elijah and stand alone against the world, again reminiscent of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Could we have here these two old testament characters? Does this solve the bible long mystery? Have these men, not so much escaped death, but been reserved and set apart for a future service and ministry in the last days?  John observes, John records but perhaps like us, John participates in what God is doing (Revelation 11:1) in this chapter. He measures what belongs to God. It isn't big in the eyes of men. An inner court of 30 by 30 feet, yet it is God's patch, God's place and God's people. God values what belongs to Him, so does John and so do the two witnesses. The interest they have in time, as an interest that continues into forever (11:12). In chapter 11 it is only those with an interest in God's people and place on earth who continue to enjoy that place in heaven!  Revelation chapter 11 looks off into future days of tribulation, yet the character, the interests of these witnesses is not foreign or new to us. They have an interest in God's work and worship here and serve God in His power and by His Spirit.  Yours by Grace in Christ  Dr J Stewart Gillespie From a series of systematic bible expositions in the book of Revelation, free to download audio mp3 and free to watch online at graceinchrist.org

Revelation chapter 10 - The Sweet Taste of Victory from the Little book of Mystery - JS Gillespie   

A chapter which calls time on the mysteries of God and invites us to eat a book doesn't have to try hard to be intriguing. Revelation chapter 10 is such a chapter. Key to our understanding of this mysterious chapter of Divine mysteries is verse 7; announcing that the "mystery of God should be finished." This is not simply the announcement of 'time up' but the anticipation of the completion and fulfilment of the Divine purposes of redemption. The 14 great mysteries of the New Testament find their fulfilment now with the blowing of the 7th trumpet.  

The mystery of the Kingdom  

The mystery of the blindness of Israel (Romans 11) 

The Mystery of the spread of the Gospel (Romans 16) 
The Mystery of the Cross (1 Corinthians 1) 
The Mystery of the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15) 
The Mystery of all things headed up in Christ (Ephesians 1) 
The Mystery of Jew and Gentile in one body (Ephesians 3) 
The Mystery of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5) 
The Mystery of Christ in us (Colossians 1) 
The Mystery of Iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2) 
The Great Mystery of Godliness (1 Timothy 3:16)  
The Mystery of the Churches and Stars (Revelation chapters 1 to 3) 
The Mystery of God (Revelation chp 10) 
The Mystery Babylon the Great  

All of these 14 mysteries seem summed up in the one mystery here - the mystery of God.  

The open book of the Divine purpose in redemption is open and as John tastes it, there is in it's inner workings a bitterness, a pain and a sorrow, the same bitterness we can detect in history as well as in the lives of individual Christians. Men like Joseph, Moses, David, Samson, Daniel, Paul and John all experienced bitter sweet lives. Lives that were bitter in their execution and yet sweet in their exaltation.  

The shadow of the cross casts itself over the workings of history as well as the lives of God's people.  

Here in chapter 10 the mysteries of God unify and complete. From chapter 10 onwards a new word will be injected in the vocabulary of exposition, that of victory. God had a plan and a purpose in the rainbow of Noah, in the law of Sinai, in the pillar of fire and cloud to guide and finally and fully in His Son. All of these pictures are reflected in the unified language of chapter 10 verses 1 to 3 as the angel announces that victory is near.  

We may not be on the easiest side but we are on the winning side!

Revelation chp 8 vs 6 to 13 - When Prophecy becomes Apocalypse Now - The Day God deconstructed the World and Man Grew Up - JS Gillespie   

 

 

Revelation chapter 8 opens with a silence of separation (8:1), a silence separating all that has gone before in heaven and upon earth from that which is about to happen. So dramatic, terrible and catastrophic are the events which are about to unfold that a line of demarcation is drawn between before the silence and after the silence. This unprecedented silence will forever be a line of separation, a turning point in God’s dealings with His world. 

Before this half an hour of silence God had dealt with this world in: 

  • Creation 
  • Grace 
  • Providence 
  • Upholding sustaining power extended as general grace to all men 
  • Redemption 

Even up until chapter 8 God’s judgments were on the whole passive and consequential upon the opening of the seals. The judgments so far were indirect, as a consequence of the opening of the seals rather than being directly commanded of God. The judgments so far pronounced drew, on the whole from natural causes and instruments in man’s world, familiar to us; eg war, famine and death. You might from the perspective of earth look at the four riders of the apocalypse and the natural disasters of the 6th seal and not clearly appreciate nor apprehend that these events had a Divine and supernatural cause! You could live through the first 6 seals and still hold on fairly tenaciously to your atheism, putting the events you experienced down to man made catastrophes, political upheaval and natural disasters. That is all about to change! 

Revelation chapter 8 verse 1 signals a line of bold demarcation, not only in John’s apocalypse but also in the foreign policy of heaven. Earth now becomes the object not of: 

  • Creation 
  • Grace 
  • Mission 
  • Salvation 

But of unparalleled judgment. 

For half an hour the chorus of heaven ceases. 

  • The worship of the innumerable company of martyrs of chapter 7, angels, living creatures and elders (7:11) is silenced 
  • The harps of the 24 elders are set aside (5:8) 
  • The chorus of the redeemed (5:9) is no longer heard 
  • Holy, Holy, Holy is cried no longer (4:8) 

Heaven falls silent. 

This silence may occupy only a single verse of that vast volume we call the Bible, but don’t be misled, this is no minor matter! This is a silence that brings to a halt the Holy, Holy, Holy of Revelation chapter 4 and the 4 living creatures! 

What is about to transpire is a judgment of unparalleled proportions. A judgment that is unlike any previous activity of heaven. The judgments of heaven move from the natural to the supernatural. In  chapter 8 of Revelation we see not only nature turned against man; as it was in chapter 6 but we see: 

  1. Heaven and the angels (8:6-13)  
  2. Hell and the demonic (chp 9) 

Mobilised against man! 

Here is a half hour of silence. A half hour for: 

  1. Awe 
  2. Grace 
  3. Forgotten prayers 

A half hour of: 

  1. Awe – a reasonable and rational response to greatness and the Glory of God eg Zechariah 2:13; Romans 3:19 
  2. Grace – even in the epicentre of Divine judgment God’s character has not changed. As late as Revelation 16:9 there remains an echo of the hope for repentance. “God...is longsuffering to us-ward not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 
  3. Forgotten prayers. Here are the prayers of “all saints” (Revelation 8:3), including those ‘forgotten’ prayers of Rev 6:10 and who knowns how many other prayers long offered and thence forgotten. God does not forget the prayers of His people, even if those who offered such prayers have already gone home to Glory. He did not forget: 

 

  • The blood of Abel (Genesis 4:10; Matthew 23:35; Luke11:51) 
  • The murder of Zacharias (Luke 11:51) 
  • Prayer of Abraham (Genesis 15:2) 
  • Prayer of Zacharias (Luke 1:13) 

 

These prayers are now offered in this interlude with the “smoke of incense” fragrant and powerful. Incense added to the fragrance of the believer’s life “for we are unto God a sweet fragrance of Christ” (2 Co 2:15). How much more effective and powerful could my prayers be if the incense of my life truly complemented the fragrance of heaven? 

The sounding of the first 4 trumpets (Revelation 8:6-13) 

In the sounding of these first 4 trumpets we have the outpouring of Divine judgment in a hitherto unknown and unseen fashion. This is the systematic deconstruction of man’s world. You could draw parallels with the 10 plagues of Egypt with the hail (v7), waters of blood (v8), destruction of the plant life (v7) and subsequently of course the plague of locusts (9:3ff). This is bigger than the 10 plagues of Egypt. This is global in extent and spiritual in character. 

In these first 4 trumpets man’s world and man’s place in the world is shaken and deconstructed. Each and every sphere of the world as we know it is shaken and impacted part by part: 

  • The earth and land (8:7) 
  • The sea (8:8-9) 
  • The rivers (8:10-11) 
  • The heavens above (8:12-13) 

Piece by piece man’s world is systematically deconstructed! 

Here is the deconstruction of the creatorial work of Genesis chapter 1. 

Here is God’s definitive response to man’s most ancient of sins; idolatry. 

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and -- fourth generation of them that hate me;” (Exodus 20:3ff) 

It is here that God’s jealousy for His own glory finds final justice and satisfaction. The material world adored by man, where man dug deep his foundations and denied his creator crumbles. 

  • Nature 
  • Civilisation 
  • Commerce 
  • Industry 
  • Culture 

 

Utter devastation and catastrophe abounds, and yet there is in all of this at least one great grace. This is the new enlightenment! Many will be familiar with the that period of western history in the 16th and 17th century we refer to as the enlightenment. A period of time marked by a mushrooming of: 

  • Science 
  • Human rights and individualism 
  • Political changes and democracy 
  • Pursuit of happiness 
  • Materialism 
  • Secularism 

A period of time in which men attempted to: 

  1. Find their place in the world 
  2. Find their happiness in the world 

Often this led many to abandon God or at least distance themselves from God and His demands morally and spiritually. These ideas have grown ever since coming down to us today in ever expanding forms. 

Here is the new enlightenment! Here is a stage closer to reality. In these days men will have to rethink who and what they are. Chapter 8 challenges us to consider not: 

  1. What man is in the world 
  2. What man is without the world 

“whose then shall these things be which thou has provided?” 

If everything I have, all I possess, all I have laid by in store for this world was gone, would I have anything left? 

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” (2 Peter 3:11) 

Edwin Blum: “Peter here makes the impending disintegration of the universe the ground for a personal challenge to his readers” (Expositors Bible Commentary) 

Is this not why we are given now an insight into events then? 

Where today does our foundation lie? 

Where today do we lay up treasure? 

What today are we distracted by? 

Is it worth it? 

Will it endure? 

What of the details of these first 4 trumpets? 

Many an interpretation has been given. 

  1. Symbolic – trees representing great men, grass the temporal nature of man’s glory, great mountain the kingdoms of men, sea as the nations. I have difficulty with this. The symbols appear to me very stretched and a bit arbitrary; are you really sure trees are great and powerful men in this context? Where trees are used as symbolic of great men there is usually an indicator or clue in the passage that they are being used in that way (Amos 2:9). 
  2. Literal – 4 literal judgments, distinctive, instigated as a sovereign act of God. What will happen is just as described. That being the case there would be nothing further to expound. The description is as it stands, simple and literal. 
  3. Descriptive – there are some elements of Johns description here that would suggest that a completely literal interpretation is probably not what is intended; eg sea “became blood” (v8) – a biological material produced by the bone marrow of animals, a complex protein structure carefully controlled by biological hormones, growth factors and cytokines. It is unlikely that such vast quantities of a biological substance would be found in the ocean, nor would they likely survive for any significant period of time in the oceans. Note also the description that the waters became “wormwood” (v11). Wormwood is a plant from which is made Absinthe, a potent and at times toxic alcoholic drink, contains a vast array of biologically active compounds, anti cholinergics, anti cholinesterases, it is toxic. Unlikely however that 1/3 of the waters will be literally turned to wormwood! 

These first 4 trumpets may then announce 4 distinct catastrophes from God, supernaturally authored and destructive individually as described: 

  1. Hail and fire 
  2. Meteor or comet hit to the seas 
  3. Comet strike affecting waters 
  4. Eclipse of some form 

However bearing in mind that this section has descriptive elements to it, ie not entirely literal, is there anything that we know of today which might fit with the figurative descriptive language of this section? 

There is one modern scenario which does pretty strongly parallel the description which we have here in Revelation chapter 8. A scenario unknown of course to John and to humanity for the next 1900 years. 

Allow me to describe from secular academic sources the likely scenario of a nuclear holocaust. 

In the event of a nuclear strike: 

Likely targets of a nuclear strike would include key population centres and cities in the world: Washington, LA, San Diego, Moscow, Vladivostok, Tokyo, Beijing. 

An epicentre of variable size depending on the size of the nuclear warhead would extend out from the point of impact over an area of 5 to 10 miles. Within that epicentre there would be total vaporisation, complete destruction. The episode would be engulfed in intense heat and flames. Everything flammable would be consumed, buildings, vehicles, people and plants. The vaporised products of that explosion would rise as a mushroom cloud, to fall to earth as black rain, embers and burning material. Approximately 50% of the debris from the initial nuclear strike would fall locally within the first 24 hours. A scenario not dissimilar to the hail and fire of verse 7 linked with the burning of vegetation. Interestingly notice that in the description of verse 7 some plants fair better than others. All of the green grass but only 1/3 of the trees were burnt up. This could likewise fit with fires extending out from nuclear epicentres in which some vegetation would be more resilient than others. In Hiroshima hit by the A bomb in 1945, all vegetation above the ground was vaporized extending out in a diameter of 3 km. Some plants with roots deep underground survived including approximately 170 broad leafed trees, including the Hibakujumoku tree. Ground based plants did not survive. 

The fallout of radioactive particles would contaminate all surface waters making them undrinkable (consider verse 10). 

The smoke and ash from that nuclear strike would rise 20 to 50 miles above the surface of the earth and stay there for a period of years. It is this smoke which would in part block out the light of the sun and moon, resulting in what scientists refer to as a nuclear winter. Note the 4th trumpet in this respect of verse 12. As a consequence, corn and wheat yields would drop depending on how large the nuclear holocaust was. From a relatively small nuclear conflict eg between India and Pakistan it is estimated that food production would drop by up to 40% and 1 to 2 billion people would perish with 90% of the worlds population starving to death in a nuclear winter. 

A nuclear hit on or around the sea would likewise have catastrophic effects on the marine life and nearby coastal regions, not only at the epicentre but in the extended area around it as the pressure way dissipates through the water. A nuclear marine hit would cause massive aquatic death, increase the sea temperature locally and change nutrient concentrations in the vicinity from decomposing marine life. 

Interestingly in response to changing sea temperatures and nutrient compositions many areas of the world experience red tides in California, Gulf of Mexico, Maine, British Columbia, Florida. This is caused by the overgrowth of a variety of toxic algae species such as Karenia Brevis and bacteria, Cyanobacterium Trichodesmium, Red tides have also been observed as a consequence of overgrowth of Alexandrium species of bacteria in sea temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The toxins from Alexandrium species are responsible for Toxic Shellfish Poisoning, these toxins form the bacteria being absorbed by the shellfish. 

In a recent paper published by Jae Young Oh, it has been discovered that some marine algae possess radioprotective phytochemicals, radioprotective polysaccharides and carotenoids. The radioprotective qualities of red algae have been extensively studied. 

At the Chernobyl site in Ukraine it was found that following the nuclear accident at Ribiyart that Cryptococcus Neoformans were able to feed on radioactive material turning radiation into chemical energy! 

Tanks at sellafield nuclear reactor have grown Haematococcus resistent to radiation. Haematococcus produces astaxanthan part of the carotenoid group of substances, which occurs in algae and causes the pink red colour in Salmon. 

“Wormwood” : 

Ukrainian – Chernobyl – perhaps a little echo of what is to come?

Part of our systematic study of the book of Revelation presented by Dr J Stewart Gillespie, at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock. 

Revelation chapter 8 vs 1 to 5 - The Silence of the Lamb - JS Gillespie  

 

Revelation chapter 8 verses 1 to 5, the half hour silence in heaven at the opening of the 7th seal and prior to the sounding of the 7th trumpet Heaven, the place of angelic adoration, worship and singing by the redeemed and the sound of eternal praise comes to a total silence. The sound track of heaven is silenced for half an hour. This deadly silence separates chapters 8 and 9 of Revelation from all that precedes. Here are a series of judgments about to be poured out upon the earth which has qualitatively and quantitatively distinct from all that precede them. These judgments unleash not only death and judgment from the sphere of nature, as did the losing of the 7 seals but these trumpets announce, directly and deliberately the unleashing of all the power of heaven (Revelation chapter 8) and of hell (Revelation chapter 9). Destruction now will be on a scale hitherto unrealised and unwitnessed.  Here also is 30 minutes of Divine Grace from a God who is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance even as late on as Revelation 16:9, this remains the case. It is during these 30 minutes of silence that heaven is punctuated with prayers past ascended and long forgotten by those who once prayed for justice, judgment and vengeance. The prayers of God's people are not forgotten. The prayers of God's people do not fall to the ground unheard and unnoticed keep praying. From a message preached at Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock by Dr J Stewart Gillespie on Revelation chapter 8 vs 1 to 5 - The Silence of the Lamb  Part of a verse by exposition of the book of Revelation, free to download audio and video.

Revelation chapter 7 vs 9 to 17 - Heaven - The Taste of a Place, The Touch of a Person - J Stewart Gillespie  

For the martyred multitude of Revelation chapter 7, heaven was worth it and heaven came as no surprise. With every strain of the sinews, every stretch of their muscle fibres and with each tensing of the tendons, this great multitude of God's people felt they were stepping upwards, higher and higher to the heavens. Reaching the summit came as no surprise. The clouds seemed closer with every step, the atmosphere of earth thinning and the sun a little brighter. Their journey had been one of progressing a little higher day by day. Along that upward path they had known the:

  1. The Taste of the Place
  2. The Touch of a Person 

Heaven was reached by a palm tree paved path from the:

  • Palms of the oasis of Elim bringing refreshment from the wells of God's provision for His people on their earthly journey
  • Palms of reflection as His people dwelt annually under the booths of palm leaves, reminding them of their pilgrim character on earth 
  • Palms of revelation under the palm tree of Deborah 
  • Palms of relationship adorning the temple 

Each step of the pilgrim journey home had a taste of the place, a fragrance of heaven. 

That journey to the dwelling place of the Lamb was likewise assured by the presence and provision of the Shepherd along the path. The one who had lead them by the still waters and who had made them lie down in green pastures was the same one who had lead them to the source of that supply. Psalm 23 with its closing promise of dwelling in the House of the Lord forever, is the doorway into the eternal vista of Revelation chapter 7. Still waters in the valley of Psalm 23 find the eternal and abundant source in the "living fountains of water" of Revelation chapter 7. In this eternal abode hearts are fully satisfied (verse 16) with Christ. 

It is at the conclusion of the journey for God's people, faithful martyrs for Jesus Christ, men and women who have come through persecution, suffering and death that we are finally able to weigh up the worth and value of all that has transpired before the eternal. Has earth been worth it? Has life been fare? Have the means been worth the end? Can we make sense of life now in the light of forever? The reflection and response of those martyred for Jesus is a resounding volley of praise and worship (verse 12); an emphatic 'yes'. Perhaps like them it would be wise for us to reserve judgment and assessment on our own trials and difficulties until finally we see life in the light of the Lamb, time from the perspective of forever. 

A message preached in our systematic series of studies in the book of Revelation at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock by Dr J Stewart Gillespie. 

 

Revelation chapter 7 vs 12 - Blessings from Brokenness - JS Gillespie  

 

Revelation chapter 7 verse 12 is a high point of praise and worship in the book of Revelation. It is perhaps all the more surprising that this praise comes from the lips of and in the presence of those who have come through the most extreme of experiences of persecution, death and martyrdom. From the embers of suffering comes a choir of praise and worship. Such praise is not naïve nor short sighted but rather founded on an appreciation of the power and wisdom of their God. 

Part of our ongoing series in the book of Revelation, a practical and devotional exposition of John's Apocalypse. 

Yours by Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Revelation chapter 7 verse 9 - The Palm Tree Paved Path to the Presence of the Lamb - JS Gillespie  

 

Revelation chapter 7 is a play of two halves. From the events on earth in verses 1 to 8 we move upward and heavenward to the innumerable multitude of martyrs before the throne of the Lamb in verses 9 to 17. We leave the gloom of God's Grace withheld from a fallen and falling world in the first half of Revelation chapter 8 to the Glory of God's grace revealed and all sufficient in the later half of chapter 7. The Lamb is indeed all the Glory in Emmanuel's land! 

This "great multitude which no man could number" stands distinct from the 144,000 of the the first half of Revelation chapter 7. This is an international and cosmopolitan company, innumerable in quantity and present in heaven. The 144,000 are numbered, of the 12 tribes of Israel and resident on earth. This vast company have emerged en masse, martyred from the persecution of tribulation days (Revelation 7:14). Undaunted and undiscouraged by the prospect of and reality of martyrdom, they pass through the fire and the flame to gain heaven and home. What motivated this drive? What fed this tenacity? As was asked of Samson in the book of Judges; what was the secret of their strength? Perhaps we have a clue here in verse 9. These martyrs of the tribulation period stand, having grasped finally in their hands the final mention of the biblical 'palm' tree. 

The path to their final destination in heaven, was a path paved with palm tress, right the way to the throne of the Lamb. Heaven was no surprise. Heaven was no vague hope. Heaven is home. The fragrance of that place, scented the entire route to glory. The one to whom they went was the one with whom they went. It is the same Lamb, the same Lord who gave them strength for the way, who waited for them at their destination. 

Israel redeemed from Egypt needed REFRESHMENT in their wilderness journeys. That refreshment from the 12 wells of Elim was enjoyed in the shade of 70 palm trees (Exodus chapter 15). 

Each year the collective consciousness of the nation of Israel would be impressed by the reflection and REMINDER that there presence passing and transient. God had called them out of Egypt for Himself. The character of the nation ought to be that of pilgrims and strangers and so between the two Sabbaths of rest they would rest in booths, under the shade of the palm trees. 

The place of REVELATION, a word from the Lord, to guide, direct and inform, came in the days of the Judges from Deborah, under the shadow of the palm tree. 

Their RELATIONSHIP with God, centred around the temple of Solomon in 1 Kings 6:29, was surrounded by the image of palm trees. 

Finally the REALITY of the presence of Jesus amongst them was marked by the raising of the palm tree (John 12:13). 

It is from that constant lifelong taste of heaven, that daily drinking of the living waters of heaven, that feeding in the bread of heaven that strength is given to face whatever persecution and pain and trial this world will throw at them to gain heaven. Heaven for these martyrs is the final step of faith and not the only step of faith. 

An excerpt from the audio and video recording of our exposition of Revelation chapter 7. Part of our bible teaching series as we study systematically through the book of Revelation. 

Yours by Grace in Christ, 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Revelation chapter 6 verses 1 to 8 - It's the End of the World - But not Quite Yet - JS Gillespie - 15th March 2022  

 

Recent events in the Ukraine and past catastrophes at times of international upheaval have led us to ask the question; 'Is this the end of the world.' The ignorance of unbelief is oblivious to the truth that just as life and creation were deliberate so too is the end of the world. Revelation chapter 6 is not the end, maybe not even the beginning of the end but perhaps the end of the beginning, laying the foundation for the series of future catastrophes which await a world under the judgment and wrath of God. 

The four riders of the apocalypse introduce this series of judgments. These are the product of the opening of the first 4 seals of the book of Revelation chapter 5. Introducing each of these 4 horses of the apocalypse is one of the four living creatures (or beasts) of chapter 5. One by one these heavenly living creatures, stamped with the character of the eternal God present their earthly antithesis in the 4 horses. 

To reject the kingly lion character of God (Rev 5:7; 6:1) is to embrace the autocratic dictatorship of the expanding kingdom of the rider of the white horse. An omen of empire building. This is a warrior armed with a bow but no arrows, with thunder but no lighting, and given a crown he has not taken. The first phase of judgment lies within the realm of an expanding empire of rule and influence, more perhaps by threat and fear than by battle and blood. 

To refuse the sacrificial and atoning character of Christ in the calf (Rev5:7) is to embrace slaughter and death (6:3) in the merciless red horse. 

To reject man glorified in Christ is to degenerate to man emaciated, corrupted and destroyed in the black horse and to reject the heights of glory to which His Spirit eagle like can sore (Revelation chp 5 vs 7) will ultimately end in the depths and depravity of death and of hell (6:8). 

Here is the apocalyptic vision of John for a world which has come to an end, but not quite yet. 

Part of the graceinchrist.org systematic bible teaching series on the book of Revelation delivered by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.

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Revelation chapter 5 verses 1 to 5 - The Book with the 7 Seals - Thy Kingdom Come - JS Gillespie - 01022022  

Upon the fulcrum of Revelation chapter 5 the whole of John's great prophetic book turns. John has introduced us to heaven in Revelation chapter 4 and to the God of heaven. In chapter 4 we learn WHAT God is; He is the covenant making and covenant keeping God of the rainbow encircled throne. All of His rule is founded on the principle of faithfulness and of God's unbreakable promises. He is the God of the crystal sea, impeccably Holy, absolutely pure. We glimpse WHO God is in the Jasper and the Sardine stone. The stones of the breastplate of Israel's high priest contain the names of Benjamin; the Son of His Father's right hand and Reuben: behold a Son. The God of eternity seated upon the throne of glory is the Son. This is the Jesus of the bible! Write above chapter 4 of Revelation: 

"Our Father which art in heaven..." 

Here is God in His dwelling. Here is God seated upon His throne! 

From chapter 6 to 19 of Revelation John will describe in detail not so much WHO God is or WHAT God is like but WHAT God will do. Chapter after awful chapter, catastrophe follows disaster and yet these calamities are anything short of natural or accidental. These earth shattering events are deliberate, ordered, designed and ordained; each one triggered by a definitive act of the Lamb and His angels. These events can in fact be traced back to the opening of the seven seals of Revelation chapter 5. 

And so after:

The 4 riders of the Apocalypse; harbingers of war, famine, death and disease you can write:

"Thy will be done on earth..."

After the veiling of the sun and the blood red moon you can write:

"Thy will be done on earth..."

After the destruction of 1/3 of the land, 1/3 of the sea, 1/3 of the rivers; you can write:

"Thy will be done on earth..."

As the solar system moves and the stars fall; you can write:

"Thy will be done on earth..."

As the bottomless pit is opened and as Apollyon leads the demonic locusts on their merciless mission; you can write:

"Thy will be done on earth..."

As 200 million horsemen emerge to destroy 1/3 of mankind, you can write:

"Thy will be done on earth..."

As Armageddon rages, the beast and Antichrist arise and the global financial and religious systems fall; you can write:

"Thy will be done on earth..."

With so much in these chapters as to who God is, what God is like and what God will do; what indeed is the purpose of Revelation chapter 5, and more particularly a scroll or book unsealed, one seal at a time unleashing global destruction? This pattern teaches me that:

  • Pain has a purpose
  • Grief has a Glory 
  • Madness has a meaning 

All of these subsequent judgments; wars and destructions are the essential forerunner to the opening of the book. It is in other words the opening of this book which heralds in Gods eternal Kingdom and New Jerusalem that necessitates the opening of this book. You can't have the open book without the preceding catastrophe!

You can't have success in life without the sacrifice!

You can't climb a mountain sitting on your sofa with your slippers on!

You can't have the donuts without the calories! 

You can't have a world of sin, rebellion, and separation from God without first the purging of fire, the fulfilment of the ultimate and eternal consequences of sin, the judgment of Satan and rebellion. To be separate from the God of life, light and love necessitates the experience of death, darkness and despair! 

The tragedy of Revelation has meaning and purpose as does all tragedy and turmoil under the hand of a sovereign God. 

To open the book that leads to Glory means to lose the seals which each demand judgment!

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Revelation chapter 5 - The Book with 7 Seals - Outline Notes - JS Gillespie  

 

The Book with 7 seals:  

Book within a book  
Scroll within the seals  
Meaning within the Mystery  

Book within a book:  

Revelation chapter 5 presents us with a book  

It is a book on the hand of God  

It is a book in the hand of the lamb  

This is an interesting and strange phenomenon  

Here we are reading God’s book – the Bible, in God’s book the Bible we read of a book in the hand of God!  

That is rather strange!  

Herein is a book within a book!  

That of course is not completely unique in the Bible, the Bible does contain a number of references to ‘external’ books:  

The Book of the prophet Shemaiah  
The Book of Jehu the Son of Hanani  
The Book of Gad the Seer  
The Book of Nathan the Seer  
The Book of the acts of Solomon  
The Book of the Wars of the Lord  
The Book of Jasher  
The Books of the Kings of Babylon (Ezra 4:15)  
The Books of the Chronicles of Media and Persia (Esther 6:1; 10:2)  

Often of course a book or piece of literature will cross reference other works to give validity to it’s own thesis or ideas; as if the author is saying; ‘here you can go away and check the facts for yourself.’  

Intriguingly of course of all of those external books referenced by the Bible, none are still in existence. If you were to place your inter library loan request it would be returned as ‘volume unavailable’.  

The Bible has no real need of external validation in any shape nor form! The Bible is the absolute source of validation itself.  

It is interesting too, to reflect upon the unique character of the Bible we hold in our hands. That whilst all of these other books have been lost, some that perhaps we might think ought to have been preserved; the histories and chronicles of the Kings of Persia and Babylon, the histories and records of the greatest empires in the world, this book the Bible has bee preserved. Down through the centuries and generations, men and women have been persuaded of the unique value and content of this book and through fire and flame have preserved the Bible at great personal cost.  

In the archives of Yad Vashem are scrolls from the synagogues of Eastern Europe, texts of the Torah, preserved through the holocaust, scrolls stained with blood and burned by fire.  

Even for those who perhaps do not have faith in the Christ of the Bible, they must surely acknowledge the uniqueness of His book.  

Within the pages of this unique book; the bible, there is hidden another book; a book within a book, almost like the Russian dolls of old, a doll within a doll.  

We open the safe of the Bible, a book of phenomenal interest in and of itself and within it we find a locked safety deposit box!  

Perhaps we ay suspect that this book within a book will contain something of even greater and deeper interest? Some hidden mystery? Some deeper secret?  

In fact the hidden character of this book of Revelation chapter 5 is even deeper than that. The bible as we know it, is a title taken from the Greek ‘ta biblia’ which literally means the ‘books’ or the ‘scrolls’ plural.  

In our hands we not only have God’s book, but within that book we have 66 of God’s books; ‘ta biblia.’  

The book on the hand of God in Revelation chapter 5 is thus:  

A book within  
A book within  
A book  

That makes it of course a very interesting book indeed!  

It is perhaps also worth noting that what is translated as a ‘book’ in Revelation chapter 5 verse 1 is in reality a ‘scroll’ – a rolled up parchment or papyrus.  

The ancient word for book was of course ‘biblos’ which was the same as the word for a scroll. The word came from the Lebanese port of ‘biblos’ through which the exportation of papyrus came.  

The Book here in Revelation chapter 5, sealed with the 7 Seals would have been in the historical context and from the description given, in reality a scroll. That would be significant to notice for later.  

This is not only a book with a book but it is also:  

A Scroll within 7 seals:  

What may that indicate?  

Many over the years have been very caught up on what the contents of this book may be but perhaps an even better or more fundamental question lies in the very existence or description of this scroll with 7 seals.  

Why should the unfolding of the subsequent chapters of Revelation be dependent upon the loosing of the seals of this scroll?  

Why are chapters 6 to 19 dependent directly and indirectly on these scrolls being broken?  

Chapter 5 is positioned strategically within the book of Revelation  

It would be easy to miss the significance of the transition between from chapter 4 to chapter 6.  

In chapter 1 John has a vision of the Lord Jesus  

In chapters 2 to 3 – We are presented with practical and prophetic and personally ministry on teh 7 churches.  

Chapter 4 brings us into heaven and a glimpse of:  

Where God is  
Who God is – the Son of God – Reuben and Benjamin  
What God is like – sovereign, covenant making and covenant keeping, a God of absolute holiness  

In chapters 6 to 19 we see what God will do.  

Why bother then with chapter 5 and the book with 7 seals.  

Why break these seals?  

Why make everything else in the book of Revelation dependant upon the breaking of these seals? It is the breaking of these seals one by one that triggers:  

The 4 riders of the apocalypse  
The judgment upon the son, moon and stars  
The sounding of the 7 trumpets  
The destruction of 1/3 grass, sea, rivers and stars  
The release of the locusts from the pit  
The 200 million horseman of the apocalypse  
The rise of antichrist  
The pouring out of the 7 vials on man, sea, rivers, sun, moon and stars.  
The battle of Armageddon  
The fall of Babylon  

All of these catastrophic events are dependant upon the opening of the 7 seals!  

Had we no chapter 5 we would see:  

Who God is (chapter 4)  
What God does (chapter 6 to 19)  

But we would have no idea as to Why God did it!  

It is chapter 5 that teaches us that all of the events of chapters 6 to 19 are not simply reactive, ie their ultimate cause and purpose does not lie with man, these chapters are not solely focused on the subject of man’s sin and judgement, there is a bigger picture and a grander theme and goal.  

The cause of these global and universal events lies here in chapter 5. All of these subsequent chapters unfold, as a consequence of the breaking of the seals. These seals are broken that the scroll might be read. All subsequent events have this as their cause – the reading of the scroll.  

It is this scroll with its ultimate glory that demands the grief oo chapters 6 to 19, it is this scroll ultimately of salvation that requires the suffering of subsequent chapters.  

This is perhaps too a truth I can apply to my own life and experience. That the grief and the suffering are in the hands of the Lord the unwrapping of Divine blessing!  

These chapters are not solely the means of judgment  

These chapters are in fact the path to glory.  

Christ with a security and guarantee which comes from Him. Christ promised that we are safe and secure, in His hand and in His Father’s hands (John 10:28-31). Our salvation is signed, sealed and delivered. For our security we have the Word of Christ, we have His Word for it, ‘heaven and earth shall pass away but my Word shall not pass away.’ In these chapters we will see that Destiny is so secure, that in order to open and declare it, this world must indeed pass away and having passed away His eternal Word and purposes remain immutable.  

Here is a scroll passed from the hand of God to the lamb (5:1)  

This scroll in ‘On the right hand of Him that sat on the throne’(5:1), offered out for the lamb to take from His hand.  

From Revelation chapter 5 onwards, the story of this scroll reads like a mystery novel, like a cliff hanger film, or a children’s book that constantly teases the reader with, ‘but what’s in the scroll.’  

The story of Revelation from chapter 5 to chapter 19 is essentially the story of the unsealing of this scroll. The breaking of the 7 seals occupies chapters 5 to 6, the 7th seal includes the sounding of the 7 trumpets which is the subject of chapters 8 to 10, the 7th trumpet announces the transfer of the kingdoms of this world to Christ (chp 11) which results in the outpouring of the 7 vials, occupying chps 15 to 16 with the consequent fall of Babylon in chapters 17 to 18.  

The bulk of the book of Revelation pertains to the opening of this scroll.  

The question then remains – what does this scroll contain?  

What is in it?  

Title deeds of the world  
The future plans and purposes of God for the world  
The subsequent events of Revelation  
The book of Daniel chapter 12  
The lamb’s book of life  

hat is in it?  

Title deeds of the world  

Seems like a reasonable suggestion  

Whatever is in the hands of God must be important after all, that seems pretty important.  

By the time all of the seals are open the world is now ready for Christ to receive His Kingdom (11:15); so it may seem reasonable that these are the title deeds to the inheritance that Christ is about to receive.  

We also know that title deeds in Jeremiah were recorded on a scroll and sealed.  

We know historically that title deeds recorded on a scroll were sealed and witnessed and the names of the witnesses were written on the scroll, which may well relate to Rev 5:1.  

But:  

There is no clear statement in Revelation that these are title deeds.  

Certainly title deeds could be written on a scroll as they were in Jeremiah, but go along to any Roman museum such as the one outside Hexham and you will find that party invitations were written on them too!  

The identification of this scroll as a title deed seems greatly dependant on extra biblical knowledge and the serendipity of archaeology, a means of interpreting scripture with which I would take issue. Is not the child of God indwelt by the Spirit of God able to interpret the Word of God? John 14:6; 1 John 2:27.  

Why is it that in order to open the scroll one must be found who is ‘worthy’? Surely if this is the title deeds for the world then the only qualification to open the scroll is that of Deity?  

​ ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.’(Psalm 24:1)  

Why are redemptive rights needed take the book (5:8-9); do the deeds for the earth need to be redeemed? Do they need bought back? Were they lost? Were they not always Gods? Who can steal the deeds of the whole earth from God?  

The future plans and purposes of God for the world  

Certainly a reasonable suggestion and more or less the same as (3)  

The problem here of course is that it is the opening of the seals, blowing of the trumpets from the 7th seal and the pouring out of the vials which actually occupy the bulk of the book of revelation, no specific reference is made to the contents of the book referencing a plan as such.  

It seems a good suggestion but lacking substantial evidence.  

The subsequent events of the book of Revelation  

See above  

The book referenced in Daniel chapter 12 verse 4?  

I would consider this to be the book of Daniel itself, corresponding not to the book of Revelation chapter 5 but to the book of Revelation itself, cf. Rev 22:10.  

The lamb’s book of life  

Let me make another suggestion, unusual amongst the commentators, although not unknown.  

By the time the seals are opened, trumpets have sounded and the vials have been poured out we reach the closing chapters of Revelation, in fact the repercussions of those events take us to the threshold of chapter 20. The book appears to have been forgotten about if the previous interpretations are correct. No further mention of any of the contents of that scroll despite the fact that the unsealing of the scroll had global and universal repercussions throughout the book of Revelation. All of that pre amble and expectation, then according to the views that this is the deeds of the earth or the future plans for the earth, this all seems to evaporate in the most massive anticlimax of the entire book of Revelation, if not the bible.  

Details are added and developed regarding this book through the book of Revelation:  

Rev 13:8 : ‘And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’  

Rev 17:8 : “whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.’’  

These 2 verses appear to be transitional, stepping stones from the ‘book’ taken by the lamb freshly slain in Revelation chapter 5 to the ‘book of life’of Revelation 20:12, 15.  

This would explain the need for one worthy to open the book in Revelation chapter 5 and that the qualifications of redemption. This is the Book of Life, only possible because of the work of redemption.  

As these seals are opened and the book of Revelation unfolds this qualification of Rev 5:9 is critical in the opening of the scroll. The unfolding purpose of God in Revelation is not primarily that of judgment upon a lost world but rather this book concludes with a new heaven and a new earth and a redeemed people. The emerald rainbow of Revelation 4 sets the scene for the subsequent chapters. Grace informs government, the elect are sealed, preserved and saved (Rev 7, 13, 14) and ultimately brought to the Kingdom (Rev 20) and to eternity (Rev 21-22).