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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 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!

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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).

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? - 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