Monday, November 11, 2013

How Jesus will conquer the world - Revelation 6-11

Revelation 11:15-17 "Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God,17 saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign."

A couple of days ago I blogged concerning a seven-fold outline of Revelation that attempted to take into consideration key words and ideas ( ).  
The particular key words in the outline had to do with John seeing a sequence beginning with persons or activities "in heaven" followed by the outworking of Divine decrees here on earth. So for example we noticed the first visionary sequence of Revelation as being Revelation 1-3, with Jesus being the Lord over His church and thus exercising His reign over the church through her history and in every place. The first visionary sequence answers the question: What is Jesus doing and what is His relationship now to the church?
Today I want us to look specifically at the second sequence we proposed: namely Revelation 4-11. This second sequence begins with a dramatic vision of the Father (4) and the Lamb (5) on the throne, ready to unfurl the judgments contained within the title deed to planet earth. John's point is to demonstrate the Lamb is worthy to break open the seals and to retake what is rightfully His - namely the title deed to planet earth. In order to do this, Jesus Christ, the New Adam, the Lamb of God will need to conquer the Kingdoms of this world. And so in this second visionary sequence, we will be asking this question: how will Jesus conquer the world?

How Jesus will conquer the Kingdoms of man or the world
We know that this question is the main focus of Revelation 6-11 in particular because of what is said in Revelation 11:15 - "Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” The larger context of Revelation in 6-19 unfolds in a repetition of various events in the same general period of time - the final seven-year tribulation period. In this particular section of chapters 6-11, the groundwork is laid by John for the realization of this general time period, its character, the Lamb's activities from heaven to earth and the reactions of the people living on earth at that time. 1 

So in looking at Revelation 6-11, how will Jesus conquer man's kingdoms? Lets propose three general headings in answer to that question:

1. Period of the Tribulation 
As we saw in yesterday's post, Daniel's seventieth week will be a time of unprecedented fulfillment of prophetic events. 

Daniel 9:26-27 gives us the specific time frame of this period - seven years. This period, according to Daniel's prophecy and repeated by Jesus in His final sermon, the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, will be subdivided into two parts. The first 3 1/2 years appears to be (relatively speaking) the less severe, with the second 3 1/2 years being termed by Jesus in Matthew 24:21 "The Great Tribulation".

Why this final seven year period prior to Christ's return? Revelation 6-11 ties together two main reasons that we find throughout other scriptures that also speak of the whole Tribulation period:

a. Pour out increasing judgment on the earth.
We see this in the seven seals of Revelation 6:1-8; 8:1-5 and the seven trumpets of 8:6-11:19.

b. Prepare Israel for her coming King.
The appearance of the 144,000 Jews from every tribe of Israel in this period is but a sampling of what the Lord intends to do in Israel.  The Bible says in Romans 11:25-26 that all Israel will be saved.  For now she has been set aside to give Gentiles, chosen and called from every nation to believe and be saved in this current age. (Romans 11) However the day is coming when Israel, having been prepared and purified will look upon the one whom they pierced and acknowledge Jesus Christ at His second coming as their Lord and Messiah. (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:37; Revelation 1:7)2

And so Jesus Christ will use the period of the Tribulation as His theater in which to bring about His conquering of man's kingdoms.  But note secondly...

Power of answered prayer. Revelation 8:1-5
I love Revelation 8:1-5 because it gives the reader a much needed pause in the midst of the havoc that will ensue during the Tribulation period. Every prayer, of every saint, prayed in every age will be used of God and the Lord Jesus Christ to bring to pass His purposes. God's Sovereign purposes are like a train traveling on the rails of His Spirit and prayer. Both run parallel and in sync with one another, with the Spirit being the believer's intercessor here on earth and prayer being shaped by the Spirit who initiates it. The railroad ties upon which God's Sovereign purposes and steel rails of the Spirit and prayer ride are the words of scripture. 

Whenever you read Revelation 8:1-5 in light of other scriptures, you see how Jesus includes prayer in the accomplishment of His victory over man's kingdoms. Luke 18:1-8, a marvelous passage on prayer, concludes with this statement in 18:8b "However, when the Son of Man comes,will He find faith on the earth?” Jesus instructs us to pray in Matthew 6:10 "Your kingdom come.Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven." Then of course the final prayer of the Bible that demonstrates Christ inclusion of prayer in His victorious return - Revelation 22:20 "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

So Jesus Christ, in bringing about what will be His conquering of man's kingdoms, will utilize the period of the tribulation and prayer, but notice lastly:

Power of His Word. Revelation 10-11
Revelation 10-11 make references to the ways in which Jesus Christ will utilize the power of the Word of God to conquer the kingdoms of this world.  In Revelation 10 we see John describing Jesus in the Old Testament imagery of the Angel of the Lord, mirroring the imagery used by Ezekiel 1:22-3:3.  Clearly with Jesus Divine nature in view, John describes Jesus Christ speaking forth in peals of thunder in Revelation 10:3-4. Then in Revelation 10:10-11 we read - "I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.11 And they *said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”  In Revelation 11 we see two witnesses, presumed by many to be a re-appearance of Moses and Elijah in the latter half of the Tribulation period. For the final 3 1/2 years or Great Tribulation period, both men will preach for the Word of God. Despite the best efforts of unbelieving man at that time, God's resurrection power will enter both men and they will be taken up. 

2 Thessalonians 2:8 reminds us - "Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming." Revelation 19:15 records what will be the same time frame - "From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty." 

We have witnessed today a summary of Revelation 6-11, aiming to answer the question: How will Jesus conquer man's kingdoms? We witnessed three answers given by the text: period of the tribulation, power of answered prayer and the power of His word. 

1. Revelation 6-11 is critical because of the reminder that it is not ultimately Satan in Revelation 12, nor Anti-Christ in chapters 13-14 nor the evils of mankind that will determine the course of history's end - but rather Christ Himself.  Revelation 6-11 lays down the necessary substrata of what will be the later visions of Revelation 12-14 and 15-19. 

2.  A note on Revelation 6:9-11 & 7:9-17 is in order, since it is contended by this blogger that the 144,000 Jews are evangelists whom are used by God to take the Gospel forth throughout every nation.  Clearly John's vision here includes people getting saved during the Tribulation period in the first 3 1/2 years and perhaps into the second half.  Several opinions exist as to the identity of these people, with no decisive and fool-proof evidences given beyond what the text presents.  All we know is that they can cling to the promise of not having to endure the wrath of God that will be poured out in full measure as one goes further and further into the Tribulation.  Clearly after Revelation 7, we do not see any saints or believing Jews mentioned, telling us that the Lord's promise of no direct, unmingled wrath on the saints in that future time will stand as it is promised to Christians in the church at this present time. (compare 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9) 

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