Looking towards Heaven - Revelation Chapters 1-6
There are a great number of studies on the Book of Revelation and we encourage prophecy students to search these rich resources for greater understanding of this glorious revelation from Jesus Christ.
If God allows, we will attempt to share in the coming weeks a succinct chapter by chapter overview of the Book of Revelation.
We pray that the information we share might aid and spur both believers and non believers to search ever deeper into the blessed words shared about mankind's future by the Risen Savior Jesus.
In Matthew 16:28 Jesus told His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom."
We are made aware of one disciple in particular by the Scriptures that lived to see the reality of that which Jesus has prophesied. The disciple was John and the record of his experience is recorded for us in the Bible Book of Revelation.
Although books upon books could be and have been written on the amazing information given to us in the twenty-two chapters of Revelation, we will attempt in this series of messages to give a brief overview for a general understanding for those with inquiring minds.
Chapter 1:1 tells us the Book is "the Revelation of Jesus Christ" of "things which must shortly take place."
Looking at the thousand year to a day pattern given in the Scripture in conjunction with the seven day sabbatical cycles of God, we find that the first four days of God's allotted time for man had passed by the time of Christ's first coming. The final two days which initiated the reference to the shortness of time which was left are almost at an end and we are convinced that the hour of God's Sabbath rest is just on the horizon.
Revelation 1:3 again emphasizes that "the time is near" and promises a special blessing for those who read or hear the words of this book and keeps those things which are written in it. Glancing over and disregarding the revelation of this prophecy will not bring forth the promised blessing.
In verses 4-6 John addresses the epistle to the seven churches which were in Asia from the seven Spirits who are before God's throne from Jesus Christ (Isa. 11:2). The word "church" means an assembly of called out ones.
Verses 7 & 8 verify that the same Jesus Christ who is returning to the earth at the close of the final 7 year Tribulation Period is none other than God Almighty.
Verses 9-16 has John describing the awesome appearance he beheld of Jesus Christ his beloved teacher on whose chest he once rested his head upon (Jn. 13:25).
What a hope to desire for oneself in the spiritual sense, to hear the heartbeat of the Son of God and bring to our recollection that our Lord Jesus Christ is only a heartbeat away. Our hearts leap for joy when we consider the love of our precious Lord, Savior and friend, Jesus.
Apparently of all the disciples only John experienced this extraordinary intimacy with his Creator because of his unreserved love for his Savior (Jn. 1:3).
Verses 17 & 18 shows Jesus once again comforting this disciple which he loves (Jn. 13:23) and reassures him that He has conquered Hades and death.
It had been over a half century since John had seen his Lord ascend into heaven and the appearance of Jesus in glory caused John to collapse (Acts 1:9).
Verse 19 is the major key to understanding the divisions God has placed in the Book of Revelation. John was to "write the things which you have seen" (the appearance of Jesus Christ to him on the island of Patmos where he had been exiled), "and the things which are" (the seven churches), "and the things which will take place after this" (that is after the time of the churches).
Verse 20 then directs us to Jesus' exhortations and rebukes for His churches.
Chapters 2 & 3 of the Book of Revelation contain information to the seven churches that were existing at the time John was on Patmos. These churches are then representative of the dominant church characteristic that existed sequentially throughout the Church Age. These characteristics continue to exist to some extent in individual churches until the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation Period begins. At that time Jesus Christ will gather all believers to meet Him in the air on their way to His Father's house in heaven (I Thess. 4:15-18 & Jn. 14:1-3).
First there are the Ephesians who have a strong orthodox church, but are unproductive in their love for Christ. Next is Smyrna which is persecuted and greatly favored by Christ. Then there is Pergamos which is idolatrous and worldly. Fourth we have Thyatira which tolerates immorality within its ranks. Fifth is Sardis which is the dying church.
The final two are revealed in dramatic contrast to each other when considering the Rapture.
The Philadelphians are faithful and Rev. 3:10 prophesies that Christ will "keep them from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world." The inference pertains to deliverance from the Tribulation Period.
Then lastly we have the Laodiceans which is the congregation of the wealthy, indifferent ones. These wishy washy believers are so abhorrent to Christ that in the Greek found in Rev. 3:16 the word for "spew" (emeo) means literally Jesus will "vomit" or "spit" them out of His mouth. This assembly is warned to repent or else have the shame of their nakedness revealed.
It is very likely that the Laodicean Church will have the great dishonor to have been joined before the Rapture to the harlot religion of Revelation 17. The false believers she will produce will carry her church's name on into the tribulation.
Chapter 3 closes with the call of the spirit for the churches to heed the words of admonition and warning which have been given.
From Chapter 1 through Chapter 3 the Church has been mentioned a total of nineteen times. After Chapter 3 the presence of the Church on earth is no longer found throughout the remainder of the Book of Revelation until after she returns with Jesus Christ at the close of the Great Tribulation.
Chapter 4 begins with John seeing an open door in heaven and a voice like a trumpet telling him, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this."
These things spoken of are to take place after what had just been addressed, that is the Church Age. The scene is now significantly taking place in heaven.
In verses 2 & 3 John, a representation of the Church, views God sitting on His throne. His appearance was like jasper and sardius stone, that is like fire and ruby and around the throne there was a rainbow that appeared like an emerald.
Verse 4 then reveals twenty-four elders in heaven wearing crowns of gold. Crowns are rewards to believers and are not given until after the Rapture at the Judgement Seat of Christ (I Cor. 9:25, II Tim. 4:8, I Pet. 5:4, I Thess. 4:15-18 & II Cor. 5:10). By this fact it is made known that we are seeing 24 Raptured believers residing in heaven.
Verses 5-9 of Rev. Ch. 4 then describes more of the incredible sights John witnessed in heaven and concludes in verses 10 & 11 with the glorified elders casting their crowns before God's throne and giving Him glory and honor.
Chapter 5 continues this scene in heaven, but now instead of an atmosphere of celebration a more somber tone is found. A scroll in the hand of God is offered for someone to open and at first no one is found worthy. John weeps in Verse 4 at this news.
Many Bible scholars point out an association between this scroll sealed with seven seals and the ancient Hebrew right of a kinsman to redeem the property of a family member. It is by the comparison a deed to the earth. Man's authority, or deed was lost to Satan in the garden of Eden and has given him a legitimate claim over the earth. Jesus recognized Satan's rulership upon the earth when He called him "the prince of this world" in John 14:30.
The Hebrew focus continues in Verse 5 when Jesus is addressed in His role as Redeemer as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" and "the Root of David."
In verse 6 the price Jesus paid for the deed is contrasted to His title of a lion when He is seen as the Sacrificial Lamb which paid for the sins of the world (I Cor. 6:20).
In Verse 7 Jesus takes the purchased scroll from God His Father.
Verses 8, 9 & 10 verify beyond question that the Church will have been Raptured and will be in heaven before the first seal of the scroll which begins the Tribulation Period is broken.
In verse 9 we are shown that those redeemed from "out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation" by the blood of Jesus Christ are in heaven praising their Savior. These people can be nobody other than the glorified saints of the Church. The rejoicing continues to escalate on through the end of the chapter.
Verse 13 is another fascinating Scripture which strengthens the fact that the glorification of the Church has taken place by this time. The Scriptures tell us that all of creation is longing for the day Christ redeems the earth. At this point of Revelation we find the creation joyously joining in the moment of praise.
We quote, "And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!" Turning to Romans 8:16-23 we find that the day creation is earnestly waiting for as the sign its deliverance is near is directly related to the time when the Church is glorified.
Romans 8:19 & 21 reads, "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God...because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."
The "glorious liberty of the children of God" being spoken of is intertwined with "the redemption of our body" and our being "glorified together" according to Rom. 8:17-23.
The glorious sign of the "revealing of the sons of God," which the creation is eagerly waiting for to signal its own deliverance from bondage and corruption is none other than the Rapture of the Church. With the Church glorified in heaven it is appropriate and understandable why every creature in creation sings praises at that blessed moment. It is because Jesus Christ is about to cleanse the earth of evil. The day of His vengeful wrath has come when all things which are written of restoration and renewal will be fulfilled (Lk. 21:22).
Chapter 6:1 & 2 reveal to us that the Tribulation Period begins when Jesus Christ (the Lamb which had been slain) opens the first seal of the scroll and unleashes a conqueror upon the world.
This conqueror has a crown like a king, but in the Greek we find that his crown is not a "diadema," which is the crown of a true imperial dignity, but instead he wears the crown called "stephanos," which is a symbol of triumph in a contest or a token of public honor, such as for military prowess.
He carries a bow, but no arrows and rides upon a white horse. These symbolize his initial ability to subdue his adversaries and have victory over them without having to rely on weaponry. He is accepted by much of the world as not only a king, but as a savior.
This man is the one known as the Anti-Christ and is described as the one who "shall destroy many in their prosperity" in Daniel 8:23-25.
In perfect harmony with what is revealed in II Thessalonians Chapter 2, the Church will have been Raptured to heaven before this man of sin takes his place on the world scene at the start of the Tribulation Period. It will be at this time when he will strengthen the covenant of Daniel 9:27 with Israel for 7 years. Please see our Rapture Watch Message, "II Thess. Ch. 2 - The Hope of God's Sequencing."