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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 chapter 9 vs 12 to 21 - The 6th Trumpet and the 4 Angels from the Euphrates - JS Gillespie  

Whilst undoubtedly one of the more complex chapters in Revelation, chapter 9 also contains some very practical lessons for the Christian by providing insight into the character and conduct of the enemy. The chapter begins with a Satanic smoke screen, emanating from the fumes billowing out their choking acrid debris into the air of earth. As always Satan obscures his purpose and as has been the case for generations his promises invariable conclude in the pit. This is the pit of broken promises, the pit into which the angels who followed him fell and an echo of the same trap set for Adam, David, Solomon, Ahithophel and Judas.

The second half of chapter 9 continues to provide forensic insight into the character of malevolence. The numbers perpetrating evil decrease from the swarms of locusts down to the 4 angels but their impact is amplified. These are the angels referenced in Daniel chapter 9, Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28; angels moving behind the scenes, motivating and manipulating the decisions and agenda of kings and politicians. These are the 4 angels of the Euphrates basin, hitherto placed on hold as the spiritual power house behind the dominance of Iraq, Turkey and Syria, once chained they now rise again, heralding the political ascendency of Turkey, Iraq and Syria. These lands become the setting for the fulfilment for some of the most unlikely of biblical prophecies. An army of 200 million are seen in this vision of John amassing for war with a third of the worlds population destroyed. At the time John wrote the world's population amounted to less than this total number observed as involved in the battle! Today however military, paramilitary and reserve forces already amount to 65 million (International Institute of Strategic Studies), with over 1 billion people potentially able to be called upon in the event of war. Today finally the numbers add up and the picture painted by John is no longer outlandish nor off the scale. Here is a battle and a slaughter ordered and ordained from the horns of the golden altar, all in God's plan and purpose, ultimately for His Glory. 

A study in our series of expository messages on the book of Revelation.

Yours by Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie 

Satanic Secrets behind the Smoke Screen of Hell - Revelation chapter 9 verses 1 to 12  

 

Chimeric demons, poisoned locusts, tortured humanity and the living dead of earth lurk behind the malevolent purposes of the morning star; Lucifer (Isaiah 14) whose fall from the heavens is recorded in Revelation chapter 9. Satan, ever true to his purposes fails to declare his hand. Like his smoke screen, Satanic purpose lacks transparency. He has and ever will fail to declare his malevolent intent. The light, obscured, the breath of life sustaining air repressive and suffocating with the infernal fumes of hell as the diabolical locusts arise from the abyss, the bottomless depths of a hell of disembodied demons. Eden saw Satan act by deception. He failed to promise Adam death, disaster, destruction and murder at his own door, he offered promotion to the deity of the Creator for the creature. Judas' deal with the Devil, did not have as part of it's terms and conditions, death by hanging and eternal perdition. Satan had promised a tidy profit of treasure for just a little treachery.  

From the abyss the locusts arise, demonic in origin and destructive in nature. These beings appear as the antithesis of the living creatures; the cherubim of Ezekiel chapter 1. These servants of Satan are but perverted and corrupted forms of the pure and holy, the cherubic servants of God. Portrayed is a scene terrifying and catastrophic, but the same Lord who had stood witness to the fall of Satan from heaven in Luke 10:18 is the same Lord who promises power over the scorpion and protection from that same fallen angel. In this chapter it is significant that it is only those with the seal of God who are preserved from judgment and loss. The protecting and preserving grace of Christ extends to and beyond the very gates of hell itself for His people. Greater indeed is He that is in you than is in the world, even in the world of Revelation chapter 9.

A message preached at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock by Dr J Stewart Gillespie as part of our systematic teaching series in the book of Revelation, audio and video recordings at graceinchrist.org. 

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 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 7 verses 1 to 11 - The missing tribe of Dan - Forgetting those who Forget God   

The prophecies of Revelation chapter 7 transport us into the future days of tribulation. During this period of intense persecution 12 000 people from each of the 12 tribes of Israel will be sealed and set apart as servant for God. Herein lies the first of 2 great problems. For over 2000 years 10 out of the 12 tribes of Israel have been regarded as 'lost tribes', peoples and tribes who never returned to their ancient homeland of Israel following their exile into the empire of Assyria. Over the past 70 years however interest has been rekindled in tracing these 10 lost tribes. Since the reestablishment of the nation state of Israel and the Messianic aspirations of Jewish scholars, the search has been on to find the 10 Northern tribes. Following the ancient silk route out of Assyria and investigating the traditions and practices of the tribes and peoples along that route has yielded fascinating results! Jewish practices, Mosiac law, the practice of the Passover and the preparation of Kosher food as well as ancient traditions of an Exodus story has been found amongst the Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan, the BenIsrael of Bombay, the Manasseh of Tibet and the Ischarof of Uzbekistan, Some leading Rabbinical scholars are convinced that all 12 of the tribes have now been identified amongst nation states and groups. Amongst these groups some are already returning to Israel!

The tribal list of Revelation chapter 7 contains a further bombshell. Included in the list of the 12 tribes is Manasseh. Manasseh was not a son of Jacob at all, but rather a grandson. As included in the list of 12 tribes he has displaced one of the original tribes, that of Dan. The tribe of Dan was no insignificant player in the OT narrative. It was Dan who was:

  1. Instrumental in constructing the tabernacle under the direction of Aholiab (Exodus chapter 31, 35, 36)
  2. Crucial in the design of the temple by the hands of Hiram (2 Chronicles 2:14) 
  3. Dan who proclaimed the law of the Lord and the warnings against idolatry from Mount Gerizim in Deuteronomy 27. 

And yet tragically it was also in Dan we see a sustained and collective loss of identity and distinctiveness:

  1. Marital compromise and unequal yoke (Leviticus 24)
  2. The first man to be stoned for blasphemy (Leviticus 24)
  3. Moral compromise in the days of Samson 
  4. Spiritual compromise and idolatry in the days of Micah in Judges 17 and 18.

It was seem that by the time we reach Revelation chapter 7 this sustained loss of identity and distinctiveness has removed them from the Divine plan, replaced now by Manasseh, the meaning of whose name is that of  'caused to forget'. God has forgotten those who forgot Him! 

The New Testament warning of Paul seems apt here; let us beware that lest having preached to others we ourselves should become shipwreck!

 

A message preached at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock, from our systematic bible teaching series on the book of Revelation. Audio and video recordings of these bible studies are free to download or view online.

Yours by God's Grace in Christ

 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Revelation chapter 7 verse 1 - If God Should hold back the Winds  

 

Hot on the heels of the catastrophic events of the opening of the first 6 seals of Revelation chapter 6 comes the introduction to the opening of the 7th seal, here in Revelation chapter 7. By all accounts the introduction to this series of events seems pretty benign, even innocuous. What is the problem with with holding the winds that blow upon the earth (Revelation 7:1)? Is this not a good thing? This would have been welcome relief to the disciples in the storm tossed boat of John chapter 6. This could have provided reprieve for Jonah on the ship heading to Tarsus. The restraining of the winds could have averted the terrifying disaster of Paul's ship wreck at Malta! So what if God holds back the winds! 

On many occasions God's winds have blown through the scripture. Often times those winds have blown with blessing and grace! 

In Genesis chapter 1, it is the Spirit of God; the same Hebrew word for wind, who moves on the face of the waters with:

  • Creatorial Power 

After the flood waters covered the earth, it is the wind that blows, pushing back those waters of judgment and permitting the release of Noah and the occupants of the ark. God's wind blows in:

  • Salvation Power 

By Passover lamb and by the power of shed blood, God purchases and releases His people from bondage in Egypt. The final hurdle is that of the Red Sea. The waters will be blown back by the wind. God blows in:

  • Redemptive Power 

To meet the needs of His people and sustain them in the wilderness, it is the wind of God that will carry the quail into the camp of the wilderness people. God blows in:

  • Sustaining Power 

The needs of Israel and Elijah will be met in draught conditions by the rains carried by the wind. God blows in:

  • Refreshing and living Power

It may appear a trivial judgment for God to hold back the winds (Revelation 7:1) but such a with holding of Divine Grace belies catastrophe; a catastrophe which can be anticipated in the physical realm as well as the spiritual. This world will feel the effects of the absence of the winds upon the earth. Temperatures will rise at the equator. Temperatures will fall at the poles. This earth will become a place of polar extremes. The earth will dessicate. Precipitation will stagnate. Bareness and dryness will dominate a world turned to desert. Spiritual conditions of course will likewise be reflected in a world which has rejected the Lamb of redemption. This world will become a place of spiritual extremes, bareness and dryness. It is perhaps worth pausing and contemplating the condition of our own life and heart. Would we notice in the microcosm of our own personal existence if God's gracious winds ceased to blow? Are we spiritual enough to detect the dryness, the bareness, the extremeness of our souls, in the presence of no open vision? 

There is in Revelation chapter 7 an infinitely more glorious purpose behind this action of God to hold back the winds. It was the winds of God who scattered the tribes of Israel in Zechariah 7:14. This wind will cease and the people of God will be regathered, sealed and set apart as witnesses for Christ. We see today the scene being set for this very event. 

A message from our systematic Bible study series in the book of Revelation 

Yours by God's Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie 

GraceinChrist.org where bible teaching never sleeps.  

 

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.

Graceinchrist.org where bible teaching never sleeps.

Revelation chapter 5 - Worthy? Ask the Angels!  

Tears begin to flow in Revelation chapter 5 at the possibility that this book in the hand of God could remain unopened. It is the losing of the seals of this momentous book which determines all else that subsequently happens in the unfolding purposes of God in this final prophetic conclusion to the Bible: the book of Revelation. This book, in the hand of God, is destined to be opened and read at the great white throne judgment, determining the destiny of God's redeemed people. It is the eternal list of those, sealed, saved and secure. This is the Lamb's book of life! That such a book should remain unread would be unthinkable. 

There is to be found only one who is worthy to break the seals and thus open the book. Redemptive character and power are needed for this task. This alone is can be undertaken by the Lamb.

Revelation chapter 5 concludes with a great, unified, although diverse chorus of praise to the worthiness of the lamb, affirming that indeed He is worthy to take the book and unloose the seals. Each individual in heaven, in turn affirms who the Lamb is, what the Lamb is and what He has done.

To the elder He is the only one fitted by might and by moral right to take the throne of the universe. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and has proven His worth and character as a man born into and through the line of Judah. The Lamb upon the throne is uniquely qualified for this role. Unlike mere human and mortal kings the Lamb does not reign purely by inherited right nor even by convincing others of His personal ability nor might. His path of ascendency came through humanity, through the tribe of Judah. His life is an open book in the Gospels and in the scriptures. We see His character, "He did sin... He knew no sin... in Him is no sin." In every way He was tested like we are yet found to be without sin. He is worthy of the throne. He is worthy to reign.

To John He is marked with the attributes of God; all powerful with His 7 horns, all knowing and seeing with His 7 eyes and omnipresent with the 7 Spirits of God sent forth upon all the earth.

To the living creatures and 24 elders His motives and character are above and beyond reproach for He not only has a people, not only has He redeemed a people but the Lamb has redeemed them with His one blood. His people are precious to Him, infinitely and personally precious.

Finally we ask the angels for their perspective on the Lamb? Is He worthy? Ask the angels! He above all inhabitors of a throne is able by the purity of His character to handle absolute power, riches, wisdom, honour and glory without pride and without tyranny. 

The one who sits today on the throne of the universe is absolutely trustworthy and dependable.

Part of our series of systematic Bible Teaching in the book of Revelation, brought by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.

Graceinchrist.org where bible teaching never sleeps.

Revelation chapter 5 verses 1 to 5 - Heaven's Best kept Secret and Why John Wept  

 

It is John who assures us in Revelation chapter 21 vs 4 that there will be no tears in heaven and yet it is his very description of heaven that opens with the intensity of his own tears (Revelation 4:4). This is indeed a strange and sorrowful introduction to the tearless place. We may be unsurprised that the description of disaster, famine, plaque and pestilence of the subsequent chapters are preceded by tears. What is about to unfold in the 7 seals, the 7 trumpets, and the 7 vials amounts to global catastrophe and world wide destruction. The 4 riders of the apocalypse are followed by the veiling of the sun and the blood moon. The 7 trumpets announce the destruction of 1/3 of the land, 1/3 of the sea. 1/3 of the rivers as well as the solar, lunar and stellar disasters. The bottomless pit is opened and the demonic plaque of locusts are released upon the earth followed by 200 million horseman reeking destruction on the earth. Boils and sores are followed by seas and rivers of blood as the satanically inspired Kingdom of the beast comes crashing down along with the global economic and religious systems. Yet it is not because of any of this John weeps! Even more astounding than the weeping of John in heaven is his reason for weeping. John weeps that these seal may not be loosed and the book may not be opened!

Whatever this book contains the glory of the book is infinitely greater than the grief which it causes! This is a book which demands the redemptive rights of the lamb to open. This is not title deeds of the universe which in reality do not exist. The earth is and always has been the Lord's and the fullness thereof. He did not purchase, neither did He lose the earth. The earth is His by rights. The Creator needs no work of redemption to judge a fallen world; that is His Divine prerogative! Neither does this book contain the story of future events, not the book of revelation in part nor in whole. The story of Revelation chapter 6 to 19 are the product of the seals and not the scroll. 

The identity of this book, is perhaps heaven's best kept secret and can only be that of the Lamb's Book of Life of Revelation chapters 20 and 21. It is only this book which requires redemptive rights to handle. It is only the Book of Life who's eternal Glory eclipses the grief of the loosed seals. It would be an unopened book of life which truly would be worth the tears of John for if the Lamb's book were never to be opened the fate of all would be that of eternal loss and damnation. This is indeed why John wept, he wept for you! The opening of this book determines the eternal destiny of all those whose names are contained within it's pages. Once this book is opened John will in chapters 20 and 21 present to us the presence and reality of the opened book of life of the Lamb. Let us value greatly the cost and consequence of our salvation.

Listen below or watch online to the full bible teaching message preached on Revelation chapter 5.

 

Yours by Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie 

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!

Graceinchrist.org where bible teaching never sleeps.

Revelation chapter 5 - The Book with Seven Seals - J Stewart Gillespie  


We may expect something secret, something special, some deep and mysterious purpose in the book we discover inside the book of the bible. Not without significance do we discover in the final book of the bible, the book of Revelation, a book hidden within the book and kept secret till the very end. Of all the books external to the bible referenced by it, the book found in Revelation chapter 5, is one of the few whose whereabouts we know of. Many enquire as to what this book contains. Is it the title deeds of the world or universe? Probably not since the earth has no title deeds! The earth is the Lord's and then fullness thereof. No special qualification of redemption is needed by God to claim what is rightfully His! Does this book contain the details of future events? Does it detail what is to be revealed in chapters 6 to 19? It is not the reading of the scroll which provides the content of subsequent chapters but rather the losing of the seals. Not until all 7 seals are broken can the scroll be opened and read!

Perhaps a better question would be not so much what do we find in the scroll but why do we have the scroll? What purpose is there here in the scroll? Is the scroll here for mere dramatic effect? What purpose is there in the progressive breaking of each successive seal?

The meaning of the symbolism appears to rest in this simple observation that for the scroll to be opened the seals must be broken! From these broken seals, all of the subsequent events of Revelation flow. The reason behind the 4 riders of the apocalypse, the sounding of the 7 trumpets, the pouring out of the 7 vials of judgement, global destruction, the loosing of the locusts from the pit, the release of the 200 million horseman, the rise of the antichrist, Armageddon and the fall of Babylon, lies here in Revelation chapter 5. All of these catastrophic events find their cause not in man and not purely as a reaction or response to man's sin but rather in the eternal purposes of God. All of the judgements and events of Revelation chapters 6 to 19 are triggered by the opening of these seals. These seals are broken that the book might be opened. Gods purpose is to be found not in destruction but construction, not in grief but in the eternal glory beyond the judgements of this world, in the new heaven, the earth and the new Jerusalem, in the eternal glory of His Son. 

Yours by Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie 

What is Heaven Like? The Tragedy of Heaven! Revelation chapter 4 verses 6 to 11  

 

Our 3rd message in our series of studies in Revelation chapter 4 - What is heaven like? 

So far for the student of the Bible our studies of heaven in the book of Revelation has yielded few surprises!

Heaven we can see:

  • Has a door (Rev 4:1) - with this we are familiar from John 10:9 - we know the door; "I am the door" 
  • There is a voice (Rev 4:1) - a voice as a trumpet, the same voice John heard in Revelation chapter 1. In fact the first voice John heard in heaven was the last voice he heard upon earth - the voice of Jesus.
  • There is a throne (Rev 4:2) - a throne we know well of even from the Lord's prayer we are well aware that heaven is the domain of God's rule; "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." 
  • Upon that throne there reigns the Son (Rev 4:3) - symbolised by the Jasper and the Sardine stone. An explanation of this is given in the video above. 
  • There is a rainbow -  the symbol of a covenant keeping God from Genesis chapter 9 
  • There is a crystal sea - the echo of which we find in the temple of Solomon. Here there is no need for cleansing. Purity and holiness is a condition for entering into heaven, nothing that defiles and can enter. 

For those who miss the door of heaven and the provision of the cross work of Jesus Christ, heaven is a tragedy!

Here in Revelation chapter 4 we glimpse the character of God in the 4 living creatures. 

In character God is:

  1. Lion like - sovereign, powerful and in control - ordering the world and the lives of all that are in it, ordering each of the circumstances of our life. 
  2. Calf like - He is the one who has made the provision for sacrifice and reconciliation, He has made the sacrifice for the sinner. Six times in the New Testament we will read of the calf. Three times it is slaughtered in Luke chapter 15 for the prodigal son and twice it is used in reconciliation and sacrifice in Hebrews. 
  3. Face of a Man - He is the God who became man, incarnate, no one has seen God at any time, the only begotten who is in the bosom of the Father He has declared Him.
  4. Eagle like - aerial, air born and soaring as the Spirit of God does (cf John chp 3). He is the one who convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. He is the Spirit who reveals Christ and sanctifies the believer.

What is heaven like?

For those who never reach it heaven is tragic.

It is the place we do not reach but ought to have reached for the God of heaven was active in revealing Himself and seeking us all of our life; revealing Himself behind the scenes, sovereign as the lion, providing for teh salvation of teh sinner as the calf, incarnate as Jesus Christ and active as the Spirit of God.

Yours by

Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

What is Heaven like - The Crystal Sea of Heaven - Revelation chp 4 vs 6 - JS Gillespie  

 

Part 2 of our studies in Revelation chapter 4 - What is Heaven Like?

It is surprising that a book about God, from God doesn't say more than it does on the subject of the dwelling place of God! The bible is written of course precisely because man is isolated and alienated from heaven! We live on the wrong side of Eden to enjoy heaven with God. In reality however heaven is in essence a minority interest. The path to heaven is difficult and narrow and there few who embark on that road to eternal life. Heaven may well be a word found on the lips of many, especially at times of loss and bereavement but the heaven of popular imagination, as the universal destiny of all souls, the place of general reunions or the perpetuation of earthly pleasures bears no relationship to the heaven of Divine revelation.

 

In Revelation chapter 4 we gain a unique insight into what heaven is actually like. The heaven of Revelation chapter 4 is God centred. This heaven has a door, only one, the voice that calls His sheep on earth (John 10:3) is the same voice we hear in heaven, calling us through the same door (John 10:9). For John as for us all, the last voice we hear upon earth; the voice of the Lord Jesus (John 10:27); is the same voice, ever so familiar that we will hear in heaven. Heaven is the place of God's throne, it is the place where God rules and reigns. This ought to be no surprise to us. Perhaps even from our earliest repetition of the Lord's prayer we were aware that heaven was the place where "thy will be done"; heaven is the place of God's rule and the origin of God's Kingdom; "thy Kingdom come."

Seated upon that throne we glimpse the Son of my right hand (Benjamin), the Son of His mother's sorrow (Benoni); behold a Son (Reuben); symbolised by two stones from the breast plate of the High Priest of Israel. The jasper stone was the stone of Benjamin (the son of my right hand) and the sardine stone was the stone of Reuben: 'behold a son'. Here finally we behold the Son of His Father's right hand, who is also the son of His mother's sorrow 'Benoni.'

For heaven the floor is the crystal sea, and from the perspective of earth it becomes a crystal ceiling (Ezekiel chp1). The pattern of Solomon's temple echoed of this with the molten sea for the cleansing of the priests. In this place all cleansing is past. This sea is crystal clear, it does not function any longer to remove sin. This sea excludes sin, for in this place there is nought that defiles that can enter therein. There is no possibility of rolling out of earth and into heaven. Absolute holiness is a condition of entry and not a consequence. Only the "blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses from all sin."

with Grace in Christ

J Stewart Gillespie

What is Heaven Like? Of Thrones and Rainbows - Revelation chp 4 vs 1 to 5 - JS Gillespie  

Part 1 of our studies in Revelation chapter 4 - What is Heaven Like? 

Of Thrones and Rainbows

It's been a long journey but finally we have got there: heaven! The mysterious object of human conjecture, spoken of little even in the Bible. Perhaps the greatest mystery of all concerning this, the dwelling place of God lies in the fact that it isn't that mysterious after all!

There is a door to heaven (Rev 4:1), we already knew about that from the words of the Lord Jesus; "I am the door, by me if any man enter in He shall be saved."

There is a voice, a voice familiar, a voice as a trumpet we have already heard in chapter 1. This is the voice of Jesus. The first voice John hears in heaven is the last voice he heard on earth! This is of necessity true for us all. Entrance is by the door and called by the voice of Jesus, the same voice who called us on this side of the eternal (John 10:3-4).

Whilst heaven is to us a place unfamiliar, our relationship with heaven is in some aspects not so different from our relationship with this world. Here upon earth we are ignorant of the familiar, understanding little of what lies behind the commonplace. Heaven is a place of the unfamiliar. It is a great paradox of Revelation that as we begin to understand the unfamiliar, that is heaven, light is shed on the familiar of earth. What we learn from heaven explains ever so much of what lies behind the reality of earth. 

Heaven is the throne room of God; He reigns, He is in control, there is a plan and a purpose and meaning to life and creation, He brings to fulfilment those 300 ancient prophecies concerning Jesus. He moves empires and kingdoms, He orders and ordains the details of our life.

His throne is surrounded by the emblem of covenant promise; the rainbow. It is the ordered covenant keeping character of God that underpins the laws physical and spiritual behind the universe. We can no more break the laws of gravity and magnetism than we can the spiritual laws of reaping and sowing. He is reliable in the physical universe. He is reliable in the spiritual; His salvation is forever; "I give unto my sheep eternal life and they shall never perish."

The identity of the throne sitter seems obscured by two stones; the Jasper and the Sardine stone; yet turn them over and read the names written from the days of Exodus 28. These are the stones found upon the breast plate of the High Priest and containing inscribed within them the names of Jacobs sons; Benjamin, the son of my right hand, also named by his mother Rachael; Benoni and the Sardine stone of Reuben. The one upon the throne is the Son of His mother's sorrow, (Benoni) the Son of His Father's right hand; (Benjamin) can you 'behold a Son' (Reuben)? 

with

 

Grace in Christ 

 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

What is Heaven Like? - Revelation chapter 4 - JS Gillespie (25/06/2022) - Translated from English into Telugu  

Dr J Stewart Gillespie shares a study in Revelation chapter 4 - What is Heaven Like? In this chapter we gain a glimpse beyond earth into heaven. God has waited for thousands of years through the writing and inspiration of the Bible before He reveals to us what heaven is like! By the time we get to Revelation chapter 4 we find that the most surprising feature of heaven is that it is not that surprising after all. There is a door into heaven, a door we have heard of before in John chapter 10 There is a voice we hear in heaven, the same voice we heard upon earth in Revelation chapter 1. There is a throne in heaven, the same throne we have known of over many years, as we prayed, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." We glimpse the one seated upon the throne in the Jasper and the Sardine stone and perceive that here is the Son of God. We discern the absolute holiness of God in the crystal sea. Only Jesus is able to fit us for such a place. Only the precious blood of God's sin is able to cleanse us from all iniquity. This message is given in English and translated into Telugu.

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

graceinchrist.org

Revelation chp 3 vs 14 to 22 - The 7 churches of Revelation - Laodicea - Its not What you Make of Life its what Life makes of You - JS Gillespie  

Laodicea - the 7th and final of the 7 churches of Revelation:

Laodicea - popular? progressive? prosperous? or poor?

Described as divergently as those who assessed it.

Laodicea themselves assessed their own progress from a place of complacency and lukewarmness. That was a tragic mistake. They considered themselves rich and successful as judged by the criteria of what they had made out of life! The standard against which the Lord would measure them was altogether different. The question was not what had they managed to make out of their life but rather what had life made out of them? All of their life was significant, not just the bottom line on the spread sheet.; "rich increased with goods and need of nothing" meant nothing to their Lord and judge who found them lukewarm. The church of Laodicea reflected something of the character of the city of Laodicea. Like the water supply of Laodicea so too the spiritual temperature of the church; lukewarm. The neighbouring city of Colossae was known for its cold water supply and the adjacent city of Hierapolis for it's hot springs. By way of contrast the water supply at Laodicea was neither. A city high above the Lycus valley it lacked sufficient water for the expanding population of the city. Where did the water come from at Laodicea? The mystery was resolved by excavations in the area of Laodicea in 2006 by a Turkish archaeologist Celal Simsek; who published a paper entitled “water springs of Laodicea and its distribution systems.” Pipes were discovered at Laodicea running for many kilometres to the separate water source of the Baspinar Spring. These pipes had heavy calcium deposits, carried water from some distance and so provided a slow running and thus likely a lukewarm water supply to Laodicea. 

Just like the lukewarm water supply of Laodicea the church likewise was lukewarm. What is somewhat surprising is the desire of the Lord Jesus; "I would that you were cold or hot." It is perhaps easy to understand that the Lord water desire an increase in their spiritual temperature from lukewarm to hot but why cold? A place of complacency and ambivalence is the most difficult place to bring about change, after all why do I need to change? I'm ok am I not? I mean I am better than the next person, I'm not so bad as ....

It is so often the case that in shaping His people God moves them from a place of lukewarmness, to first of all a cold place where their need is perceptible before moving them to a place of warmth. This was the pattern for Saul of Tarsus the self righteous Pharisee, he had to first be broken on the Damascus road before being brought to salvation on his knees. This was the case for Moses, brought from the palace to the pasture, in the back side of the desert for 40 years before then becoming the leader of the nation of Israel. This also was true of Samson, brought finally to a place of weakness, humiliated and mutilated, led by a young lad until finally and uniquely in his life he prayed, "strengthen me only this once." That final and painful prayer marked the closing transition of revival in a life of at best lukewarmness.

Christ looked for "gold tried in the fire." All of their life under the hand of God, God had moulded and shaped them, bringing out gold tried in the fire, Christ like character!  That type of character forged in the furnace of adversity, to which Job refers in Job23:10 "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10.

Claiming the Divine title of the "Amen" of Isaiah 65:16 (Rev 3:14), the Lord reminds them that He has the final word after the end. The Amen speaks. After the conclusion of their lives and service, after the study days are past and after the exam has been sat, it is Christ, who as the Amen brings the final verdict. He is the conclusion after the end. His is the terminal assessment of all people. He is the end beyond the conclusion and His assessment proves a lot less flattering than their own! 

Yours by 

Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Revelation chp 3 vs 7 to 13 - The 7 churches of Revelation - Philadelphia - Surprising Origins and Unexpected Destinies - JS Gillespie - 17112021  

Philadelphia shines brightly against a backdrop of dark and dismal failure. It would be impossible to predict that unadulterated commendation of the church at Philadelphia would have followed after the preceding failures of Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira and Sardis. When God's Grace is operative it is impossible to predict the end from the beginning. Let us be encouraged, we may come from humble circumstances, we may have had an unpromising start in life, in the estimation of the world we may not amount to very much but when the grace of God is operative the outcomes and end point are consistent not with our limitations but with the immeasurable Glory of God's Grace in Christ. The unqualified commendation of this church after so much correction and condemnation in the other churches of Revelation, comes as a striking and refreshing surprise. It does not follow the pattern of past failure. As is so often the case, when God's grace blows afresh on glowing embers it is impossible to predict how high these glorious flames will rise.

Perhaps we have scratched our heads over the details of 1 Samuel chapter 17. Why the details of David's errand to deliver bread and cheeses to his brothers in the valley of Elah? The answer of course is very simple. 1 Samuel chapter 17 is actually all about David's errand to bring the bread, cheeses and parched corn to his brothers and their captain in the valley of Elah. David was sent on a simple errand of delivering bread and cheese to his brothers. The rest of chapter 17, the details of David's fight with Goliath, his victory over the Philistines, his gaining of a bride and his ascent to the throne of Israel is really an add on, an extra to what he had been sent to do; deliver bread, cheese and parched corn!

When the Grace of God and the power of the God of Israel is operative it is utterly impossible to predict the outcome from the beginning! It may have been a simple task David embarked upon, perhaps even a task like the foot washing of John chapter 13 that the disciples thought beneath them, but this led to David's first and greatest, that of the slaying of Goliath and the path to the throne. 

The key to the success of Philadelphia lay ultimately in their likeness to Christ. They kept His word and honoured His name; a path of truth and holiness (3:7). When the door was opened they were ready and waiting to go through that door. 

The door was undoubtedly one to mission and ministry, service and success in evangelism. As with all service, which can at times be onerous, involving sacrifice and commitment, service was the direction and not the ultimate destiny. The end point of this journey, through the open door, a door which was opened by David's anointed (Isaiah 22:22),  was the heavenly Jerusalem and God's eternal presence (Rev 3:12) just as the keys held by the typical Eliakim in Isaiah chapter 22 were keys to house of David, and to the temple; the "Father's house" (Isaiah 22:24). They too were to become pillars in the place of holiness.

From a series of bible teaching messages on the seven churches of Revelation 

Yours by

 

Grace in Christ

 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

The 7 churches of Revelation - Pillars in the Place of Holiness - Philadelphia (Revelation chp 3 vs 7 to 13) - JS Gillespie  

Philadelphia the church that breaks the mould. Arising from the unpromising soils of corruption and compromise Philadelphia has found the secret of success. The character of Christ is seen in His church; holiness and truth. They value His presence and His Word. Prepared with such a grasp of Divine truth and character they are ready to enter through the open door of opportunity, a door leading to a far greater destiny than service itself. They are destined as pillars in the place of holiness!

From a series of Bible teaching messages on the seven churches of Revelation 

Yours by 

Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

The 7 Churches of Revelation - Sardis - The Shame of a Name - Revelation chp 3 vs 1 to 6 - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

The church at Sardis, the 5th of the 7 churches of Revelation is:

  • Insensitive to the Spirit
  • Unresponsive to the Scriptures
  • Unenthusiastic in service 
  • Uninterested in the preaching of the Word of God 
  • Inactive in worship

Sardis may have had a name, a reputation of being the place to be, but it was a name, like the city, based on past glory and memories of the 'good ole days' which may not have been that good after all. Sardis spiritually as a church seemed to have imbibed some of the flavour of the city of Sardis historically. Sardis living in the light of past glory, had been the capital of the Lydian Empire, ruled by Croesus, a king of legendary wealth. In the days of Croesus the Lydians of Sardis had worked out how to purify gold and separate it from silver, to a very high standard. Sardis of a by gone day was renowned for minting the highest standards of pure gold coins. 

Re-echoeing the themes of the church of Sardis in Revelation chapter 3, the secular historian Herodotus describes the fall of the city to Cyrus the Great in the 6th Century BC. Like the church the city had been caught out sleeping! Caught off guard and failing to be 'watchful' the apparently impregnable Sardis fell. One of Cyrus's troops whilst watching the ramparts of Sardis saw a Lydian soldier lose his helmet over the wall, climb down to the helmet and retrieve it. 

The Lydian soldier realised if he could find a way up to that point there was a path thereafter. This provided Cyrus and his forces with the break through they needed, That night Sardis fell, unwatched, and unguarded. A parable indeed of the church of Revelation chapter 3.

Living in the glory of the past did Sardis no favours. Such a practice tends to render us disengaged from being like David and "serving our generation." 

The path to recovery for Sardis lay not only in WHAT they knew but in returning to HOW they discovered the fresh fires of revival "remember therefore how thou hast received" (Rev 3:3). That HOW was by the experiential ministry of the 7 fold Spirit of God (Rev 3:1; Isaiah 11:1-2). God's Spirit brings the Divine into personal experience. He is the Spirit of: 

Intercession (Rom 8:26ff)

Revelation (John 16:15) 

Communication (1 Peter 4:11)

Education (1 Jo 2:27) 

Consolation (john 14:16) 

Transformation (2 Co3:18) 

Direction (Rom 8:1)

Without His ministry, Christian life becomes, dead dry and unresponsive.

It was by the work of the Spirit of God that the revival fires of the days of reformation were fanned. It is to the days of reformation that Sardis would particularly relate in the panorama of Church history. After the days of compromise under Constantine in the period of church history typified by Pergamus, following the orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism of Thyatira, truth was in part recovered in the days of Sardis as the Spirit of God once again was depended upon to reveal the truth of the Word of God to the people of God. This was "how they had received and heard" (3:3); to this they must return.

 

Yours by 

 

Grace in Christ

J Stewart Gillespie