Explaining the mystery and meaning of Babylon in Revelation chapters 17 and 18. What is Babylon? When will Babylon appear? What will the mystery Babylon be like? In this bible study we examine the spirit of Babylon, the system of Babylon and the secret of Babylon. Practically we see the need for separation and Holiness from the corruption of the world's systems. Dr J Stewart Gillespie
The world looks on and wonders, surprised at the residence and presidence of the demonic beast's take over of Babylon. The most surprising aspect of Revelation 17 is that the world is surprised! Having fashioned a world system of atheism, humanism, hedonism and materialism nothing could be more predictable than that system would become a perfect habitation for the demonic. Anyone surely could predict this, except the world itself! Satan had mankind fashion his anti-church, his anti-kingdom on his behalf. Here was a place of safety, security, and salvation (17:4). Babylon offered everything a soul could wish for! Here was a false saviour and a false salvation! Here was Satan's master piece, the work of millenia! The angel (17:1) pauses from his busy schedule to emphasise to John that whilst the wheels of Divine justice may well turn slow, they turn certain and sure. There is nothing more certain than Divine justice played out in time and in eternity. Dr J Stewart Gillespie, www.graceinchrist.org.
Systematic bible teaching from the book of Revelation chapter 16. We consider the significance of God's seven fold judgement of the vials upon this world, the mark of the beast and, the three frogs and Armageddon. A bible teaching message from the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock.
Heaven is the expected conclusion to the life of faith. The path to heaven is fragranced with the presence and provision of the God of heaven. As pilgrims heavenward, the one to whom we go is the one who goes with us. We drink of the well of the living waters of Christ, as he promised to the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4. We hear His word of revelation and enjoy an ongoing relationship with the Saviour day by day. When heaven finally comes the summit is to the believer no surprise. With every step upward we feel the strain in our muscles, the tension in our tendons, the cool dew condensing on our hair, the air becoming thinner and the sun a little brighter. Heaven is the conclusion to a life of faith. We know the way because we know the person.
From a series of messages on the theme of "Tell me There's a Heaven" given at Faskally Families Week in 2022 by Dr J Stewart Gillespie
Trace back the fuse wire to the detonator that triggered the pouring out of the 7 vials of judgment, the fall of Babylon the Great, the battle of Armageddon, the sounding of the 7 trumpets, and the opening of the 7 seals, will lead you to this book in the hand of God in Revelation chapter 5. Whatever this book is, it contains the secret of all subsequent judgments and catastrophes in the book of Revelation which are to befall the world. Whatever it is, this book is important. Despite the fact that loosening the seals to open the book leads to global environmental, economic and spiritual melt down following in the wake of war, famine, disease and demonic attack, this is a risk worth taking.
The 4th message in a series of studies in the book of Revelation given at Faskally Family week 2022 on the theme of "Tell me There's a Heaven" by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.
Revelation chapter 13 is set in a day not too distant!
This second beast arises out of the earth as opposed to the sea (13:1).
The first beast we have categorised / identified as the AntiChrist on the basis of:
Wild beast description (13:1) by way of contrast with the description of the Lord Jesus as the lamb.
His incarnation in arising up out of the depths of the sea (13:1) in contrast to the one who came down from God (John 6:33,38)
7 fold names of blasphemy (13:1) in marked contrast to those names associated with the 7 fold spirit of God, described of the Lord Jesus in Isaiah 11: 2 and ascribed to the Lord Jesus in Revelation 5:6.
His mouth “speaking great things” (13:5) that also quite strikingly contrasts with the “gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth” (Luke 4:22)
The duration of his reign of 3 ½ years which compares to the 3 ½ of public service of the Lord Jesus as a humble servant.
AntiSermon on the mount of 13:6, as the beast opens his mouth in blasphemy against God, His place on earth and His place in heaven. The complete opposite of what we find from the lips of Christ in Matthew 5:2; 6:9.
The first beast then we characterised as the AntiChrist. He had the object of distracting us from Christ, providing us with an alternative, a Satanic alternative opposite to the Christ of God.That of course has always been the object and purpose of Satan, to provide an alternative Christ, an antichrist, anti in:
The second beast is intimately tied into the mission of the Antichrist (13:12). His purpose is not so much to provide the lie; that has already been done, but to get us believing the lie, subscribing to the lie and under the power of the lie.
This second beast is referred to as the false prophet in Revelation 19:20.
He is not only false of course but in verse 11 he is DANGEROUS; dangerously deceptive. The second beast looks superficially, to the passing glance, like a lamb, although intriguingly he looks like a lamb in rather peculiar way. That feature of the beast which connects him to, that echoes of the lamb, is perhaps the least lamb like feature of the lamb, the horns! You won't find any reference to that feature of the lamb in the OT. The closest perhaps, is the reference to God providing Himself a lamb in Genesis 22. When Abraham turns there is the provision for the sacrifice, caught by it’s horns in the thicket, but the language is changed from lamb to ram. The horn is symbolic of strength and power in the Old Testament. The power of this beast however is unassuming, maybe even strangely attractive. His power is disguised lamb like as non-threatening, benign and perhaps even kindly. This is the power behind deception. This beast, whilst we appreciate his power, can be trusted because, well quite clearly he is acting in our best interests! We can trust him! He is the master propagandist. He is powerful and dangerous. His power seems to be benign, beneficent. He has managed to convince a lost world that they can trust him! Trust me, I’m a devil.
You don’t need to look too far to get a flavour of that today, religious leaders who project themselves as warm, friendly, with your best interest at heart and in the process get you to swallow a lie hook line and sinker.
There is currently circulating on Facebook and You Tube a video with 3 million views, fronted by a benign and friendly looking Buddhist monk advising us of 3 things we need to know, one of which was ‘don’t be a prisoner to your past, the past is just a lesson not a life sentence.’
That seems to be, on the surface quite a warm and helpful statement, encouraging people not to be hindered by burdens in the past they cannot alter. But of course it contains the seed of a most profound lie and it fails to stand up to logical scrutiny.
It’s illogical – if the past is but a lesson for the present, then logically the present is a lesson for the future, which begs the question a lesson for what? For life? When does the living come if this is but a lesson. The reality is that the past and present and future are no mere lessons to be learned and moved on from. By all means we must learn lessons from our mistakes in the past. The subtle twist brings in the most profound lie. We learn lessons from the past and in the past but the past itself is not a lesson. The past is our life. The past has consequences for us, what we sow we reap. Consequences for others in time and for us in eternity, ultimately, we receive the ‘due reward of our deeds.’
We are accountable for our past and our past will be judged by God. It is no simple matter to learn the lesson, dismiss the past as a mere lesson and move on. That denies
accountability for and
judgement of and
salvation from sin.
This second beast is dangerous and deceptive.
What is the nature of this apparent miracle?
On surface he produces an image / a statue like perhaps that of Nebuchadnezzar and then make it live – that would be a miracle. It would indeed be a miracle! Comparable to the miracle of creation. This is very unlikely.
To God uniquely is imputed the power to give life. We have that truth in Creation.
“in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)
“in Him is life and that life is the light of men”
So much so, come John’s Gospel, it is the fact that Christ is able to make alive that John uses as a proof of the Deity of Christ.
Come the replication of the miracles of Moses, the magicians of Pharaoh seemed to have a real problem in turning dust into lice, in producing life from the dust (Exodus 8:18). How come Satan can do it now but not then?
The word here for life is a bit unusual in verse 15. It is not the word for a living organism, animate with motion and activity ‘zoe’ but rather “pneuma”. This false prophet, manages to take a man made object and impute a spirit to it. By analogy to God’s creation of Adam we recall that God breathed into Adam the breath of lifes and Adam became a living soul then perhaps what we have here is a man made artificial entity empowered by the spirit of the false prophet. As strange as that may sound that is not out with the realms of possibility.
Man cannot create life but he can transfer his life force or spirit to a previously inanimate object.
The story begins back around 1999 with a Prof Miguel Nicolelis creating a Brain Computer Interface. Probes were inserted into the brain, which measured brain action potentials and electrical activity. Some very clever computer analysis was able to anticipate which muscles and movements these electrical activities triggered. He then got a monkey to play a computer game with a joy stick whilst that brain computer interface was reading the monkey's brain. He then disconnected the joystick and the monkey was able to control the screen and computer with mere thought read by the brain computer interface.
Professor Kevin Warwick, professor of Cybernetics at the university of Reading, used an implant into his nervous system in 2002 to control a robotic arm. What was interesting was that he added a further dimension to this by making use of the internet, so that he moved the robotic arm in a different continent. His spirit in a sense animated the inanimate object.
Currently an Elon Musk funded company in California – Neuralink is experimenting with a neural brain implant, about the size of a £1 coin, inserted into a hole hollowed out of the skull, to which is attached 1024 fine electrically conducting channels. The neuralink has inductive, wireless charging and megabyte wireless transfer speeds. These channels pick up the action potentials, the electrical activity of the brain. Complex and clever computer decoding is able to tie those patterns of electrical signals to the physical movements which they cause. Musk’s neuralink group were able to use the brain signals from a monkey to play ping pong!
We are also the first generation to live in the era when we no longer need to doubt the possibility of the fulfilment of verses 16 and 17, nor need we greatly speculate as to how this could be possible.
You can order one over the internet today.
British Polish company Walletmor has now gone into commercial production of these devices just a few months ago. It uses the same technology as is in your contactless NFC payment system in your mobile phone.
“The microchip implants that let you pay with your hand” BBC Website 2022
Cost euros: 249.00
The technology referenced in Revelation chapter 13 is already with us.
How long before the antichrist and false prophet are likewise with us?
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!
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.
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.
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:
Upholding sustaining power extended as general grace to all men
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:
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:
Heaven and the angels (8:6-13)
Hell and the demonic (chp 9)
Mobilised against man!
Here is a half hour of silence. A half hour for:
A half hour of:
Awe – a reasonable and rational response to greatness and the Glory of God eg Zechariah 2:13; Romans 3:19
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.”
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.
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:
Human rights and individualism
Political changes and democracy
Pursuit of happiness
A period of time in which men attempted to:
Find their place in the world
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:
What man is in the world
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.
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).
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.
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:
Hail and fire
Meteor or comet hit to the seas
Comet strike affecting waters
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.
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.
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:
The Taste of the Place
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.