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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 - 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