Christ and the Future Unveiled (Revelation Sermon 49 of 49)
May 27, 2018 | Andy Davis
A Panoramic View
Some years ago, my son Nathaniel and I were hiking in the White Mountains. We climbed Mt. Washington, the tallest mountain in New Hampshire and the most prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River, which offers spectacular view if the weather permits. We hiked the Tuckerman Ravine trail and as is often the case on that mountain, the weather was inclement — foggy and drizzly. Nathaniel had never been up that trail before but I knew what he was missing. I prayed for the weather to clear so he could experience the view. As we climbed above the tree-line where the views of the entire region are incredible, the fog and clouds cleared enough to allow us to see the view for about ten minutes. From that lofty perch, we had a spectacular, breathtaking panoramic view of the entire Mt. Washington valley below us — other peaks and valleys, countless trees, glistening rivers and lakes — before the fog closed back in.
This is the final sermon in the book of Revelation, the culmination of almost a year of sermons in this book — 49 in total. Today we will take in a panoramic view of this incredible final book of the Bible. From our vantage point, having preached line by line and chapter by chapter, through the entire book, I pray that we would have a sense of its hidden truths. “Revelation,” both in the Greek (apokalupsis) and in English, literally means pulling back or removal of a veil, to show us hidden spiritual realities. Faith is the eyesight of the soul by which we see these invisible spiritual realities of the past, present and future, based on the Word of God.
Another image comes from the title of a sermon John MacArthur preached years ago — “Jet Tour through the Book of Revelation” — in which he preached through the entire book in about 75 minutes. In the Mall of America in Minneapolis, there is a flight simulation ride in an IMAX theater called “FlyOver America.” It takes people on an aerial tour of some key landmarks and spectacles throughout the United States — Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons, other national parks, the Mississippi River — using virtual flight technology. It is a “full immersion experience,” including various weather patterns like wind and mist, and even has aromas diffused into the theater.
We do not want to provide a full immersion experience with this sermon, given the overwhelming, terrifying topics and images in the book of Revelation. The prophet Daniel was he was left half-alive, speechless, breathless, lying on the ground with some of his visions. In Daniel 8:27, after a specific prophecy of Alexander the Great, he said, “I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.” If God Himself were to pour into our souls vividly the kind of images he gave to John or Daniel, we would be similarly laid out, barely able to breathe.
We will walk through an overview all 22 chapters, and then I will pull out seven organizing themes. It begins in Revelation 1:1 with God’s purpose statement for this book. “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.” That is a statement of the two central topics of Revelation: Jesus Christ unveiled, and the future unveiled.
The Ultimate Author and the Human Author
Revelation 1:1-2 says, “He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw — that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” The ultimate author of this book is Almighty God; the human author is the Apostle John. God the Father mediated the book to us: He gave the revelation to Jesus; Jesus gave it through the Spirit to an angel; the angel gave it to John; and John gave it to us.
In verses 4-5 there is an ascription to, or a greeting, from the triune God: “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come [Almighty God], and from the seven spirits [or seven-fold spirit, referring to the Holy Spirit] before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” There are blessings attached to reading this book, as verse 3 tells us: “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”
Christ the High Priest
The rest of chapter 1 is a vision of the resurrected, glorified Christ moving through seven golden lampstands, dressed like a priest, which gives us a picture of the high priestly ministry of Jesus. The seven golden lampstands represent seven local churches in the province of Asia, which is modern-day Turkey. They were literal actual churches that were planted and growing and thriving or struggling in John’s day but they also represent all local churches in all geographical locations throughout all eras of church history, the number seven representing perfection or completion. These churches are relevant to all of us.
They are golden lampstands in that they are indescribably valuable to God and that they are set up to give light to everyone around. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” We are called on to be lights shining in our locality. Jesus walking in among them shows his active continual ministry to each and every local church in the world — continually aware of them, ministering to them, trimming their wicks, ruling over them, studying them, and addressing them.
The Seven Churches (Revelation 2-3)
Revelation 2-3 are letters to the seven churches from Jesus. Jesus speaks to the seven churches, and through the seven churches speaks to all of us both as a local church and as individual Christians. John is commanded to write down the words of Jesus Christ to each church and each church is commanded to read not only its own letter but the letters of all the other churches as well. Through that doorway, we Christians read all seven letters and are addressed by God.
The letters show that Christ knows in perfect detail what is happening with each of the local churches around the world. He evaluates the churches in terms of their opportunities and their dangers...and their performance (their deeds) — the ways they please Him and the ways they displease Him. In every case, he appeals to individual Christians within the churches to overcome Satanic attacks and to live victorious lives in their circumstances by the power of the Spirit. He promises rewards to those who will overcome. In the end, all local churches are temporary, like scaffolding on the real temple or church that is being built, but the individuals within them are eternal.
From the cumulative lesson of the seven churches, we are exhorted to labor diligently for the Gospel and for the lost in our communities. We are exhorted to expose false teaching and refute it. We are exhorted to be sexually pure and to not tolerate sin in our lives or in our local church. We are told to stand firm in times of persecution. We are told to perceive open doors of ministry opportunity that God has set before us so that we can walk through those doors for his glory. We are warned to perceive Satan’s specific attacks in our community, to perceive where he might have a throne set up and how he is attacking truth.
Individually we are warned not to forsake our first love, not to become lukewarm but to be passionate in our walk with Christ. Christ searches hearts and minds and will reward each person according to what he has done. We are threatened as a church that if we are not faithful to the internal journey of holiness and the external journey of Gospel advance, he will remove the lamp stand and continue on without this local church, so we must be diligent and vigilant in all of these things. We are individually promised many, varied, rich eternal rewards if we will overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God the Creator (Revelation 4)
The next vision in the Book of Revelation is the most important in the entire book. John, in exile on the island of Patmos, was given an incredible invitation to ascend from the surface of the earth to go through an open door to perceive what is in Heaven. Revelation 4:1-2 says, “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.” That throne (and the One sitting on it) is the central reality of the universe. It is the throne of Almighty God, the King of the Universe.
Because Satan rebelled against that throne, he was hurled from Heaven to earth in disgrace with his angels, the demons. Because Adam and the human race joined Satan’s rebellion against that throne, we stand in need of a Savior. Because of human rebellion against the throne of God, wrath and curse and judgments are poured out on earth. It is reconciliation to God and surrendering to that throne, kneeling before Him, that saves us. In Revelation 7, the multitude greater than anyone could count are standing in white robes before that throne; they have been reconciled to it. In Revelation 22, God’s servants surround His throne there in the city, and His servants will serve Him forever. That throne, the Kingship of Almighty God, is the central reality of the universe and should be the central reality of our lives.
Around this throne are twenty-four other thrones, representing the twenty-four esteemed elders, redeemed, sinners saved by grace but put in positions of honor there. They are continually falling down, casting their crowns, specifically celebrating and worshiping God the Creator, who created all things.
Christ the Redeemer (Revelation 5)
In chapter 5, the dramatic heavenly scene continues, shifting to focus on Christ the Redeemer. John sees a scroll sealed with seven seals in the right hand of Him who sits on the throne. A mighty angel cries out, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.” It is a very dramatic moment. In Revelation 5:5-7, “… one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne ... He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. This is Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Lamb that was slain for the sins of the world. He is the centerpiece of our Sovereign God’s redemptive plan in history.
Not only does he have the right to take the scroll and break open its seals to unfold events in history, he also has the right to stand in the center of the throne with Almighty God and share worship as God. He is a terrifying Lion to all of his enemies. But for the rest of the book he is not depicted as a lion. Even while dreadful judgments are happening, he is called the Lamb. That is because he is a Lamb for us. He is gentle and loving and kind; our Redeemer. By the Lamb, we are not swept away in the wrath and judgment that we deserve. He is equally worthy of worship as God the Creator, so those present in Heaven fall down in cascading worship of him, praising him because he shed his blood and “with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
The Seven Seals (Revelation 6)
In Revelation 6, Jesus begins to break open the seven seals one after the other. As a result of the actions of the Sovereign God through Jesus Christ, events happen on earth. The first four seals result in the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, bringing a series of devastations on the earth that are not unique: famine, certain types of governments, wars and rumors of war. Jesus told us in Matthew 24 that these things would come in every generation. Some scholars think that these first four seals are the unfolding of judgments throughout history preliminary to the final events; others have a different interpretation.
The fifth seal focuses on martyrs, brothers and sisters in Christ who have died unjustly at the hands of the devil and his henchmen on earth. They are depicted in Heaven under the altar of God, crying out for vengeance and justice. “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood? They were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.” God has a certain number of martyrs, which will greatly increase at the end of the world.
The sixth seal seems to usher in the events that will bring the end of the world. Revelation 6:12-17 says, “I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who will be able to stand?’” This seal tells of the impending devastation of nature and the end of all things.
The Countless Multitude Redeemed (Revelation 7)
At the end of chapter 6, as the people are looking for refuge, for a place to stand but finding none — just as in Noah’s day, people found no place to stand when the waters rose — people ask “When the great day of the wrath of God comes, who will be able to stand?” Revelation 7 answers that question. There will be a group of people able to survive God’s wrath. Christians should be thanking God at this moment, because we are no different than those who deserve to be swept away by God’s wrath. We are all sinners. But in Revelation 7, salvation is clearly portrayed, first for the Jews and then for the Gentiles.
Revelation 7:4-8 depicts the elect, 12,000 redeemed from each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, 144,000 total. This is symbolic but also literal in the pattern of Jew first, then Gentile. Revelation 7:9-10 depicts “a multitude greater than anyone can count from every tribe and language and people and nation,” wearing white robes, holding palm branches, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” These are the saved, the redeemed from all over the world, the fruit of missions. These are the treasure that Christ shed his blood to win, the point of the history of redemption. They are standing before the throne, no longer rebels but now delighted to serve Him who sits on the throne.
The Seven Trumpets (Revelation 8-9)
Breaking open the seventh seal produces the seven trumpet judgments, which are God’s judgment poured out on planet earth, part one. They result in ecological disaster such as the world has never seen before. Revelation is one of the most difficult books in the Bible to interpret, but it is possible to take a simple, grammatical, historical approach, looking through the symbolic language to a literal physical prediction of the future. The seven trumpets provide one of the key hermeneutical — interpretive — texts to the entire book. They cannot merely be symbolic; nothing like these events at this scale has ever occurred in history, so they must be predictions of future events that will occur.
Because of Adam’s sin, part of his judgment (and through him our judgment), the ecology of the earth was cursed. The ground would now produce thorns and thistles. The sins of Noah’s generation resulted in the entire earth being flooded. Romans 8 says that the earth is groaning and in bondage to decay, and so it will be at the end of the world.
These seven trumpets unleash a series of horrific judgments designed to give sinners on earth one final chance to repent before the end comes. The first trumpet results in fires raging on the surface of the earth, burning up a third of all the trees as well as all the green grass. The second leads to a third of the sea turning into blood, a third of the sea creatures dying, and a third of the ships being destroyed. The third causes a third of all the fresh water on earth to be poisoned. The fourth sees a third of the sun, moon, and stars darkened, which could mean a reduction in their total brightness. The fifth unleashes a billowing cloud of demons pouring forth from the Abyss to assault the human race, stinging like a scorpion, tormenting people for five months. People will yearn for death but not be able to die. The sixth brings a horrific demonic/human army that sweeps over the surface of the earth, numbering 200 million, slaughtering one third of all mankind — up to three billion people dying. Despite all of this horror, Revelation 9:20 makes a tragic statement: “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent.”
The Scroll and the Two Witnesses (Revelation 10-11)
The next two chapters, Revelation 10 and 11, present a unifying theme of witness of speaking to the earth about what is happening. John is commissioned, or recommissioned, by a mighty, glorious angel, who takes his stand with one foot on the sea and one on the earth, with his head in the clouds. He holds a scroll in his hand, lying open, representing the revelation of God. There are certain aspects of this scene that John hears but is not allowed to write down. They are secrets. But there is also an open scroll. John is commanded to eat the scroll, which tastes sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach. He is told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.” He is recommissioned to explain these events to the world.
Chapter 11 reveals two witnesses — John MacArthur said he would volunteer to be one. They stand before the beast, the Antichrist in the city where Jesus was crucified (Jerusalem). They testify boldly and clearly for three and a half years about the ecological disasters. They are able to shut the sky so it will not rain. No one can overcome them, for “fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies.” The Antichrist, however, is finally able to kill them, but after three days they rise and they ascend to Heaven.
Satan’s Savage Attack on the People of God (Revelation 12)
Revelation 12 is one of the clearest depictions in the Bible of our invisible but real enemy, Satan. He is repeatedly portrayed as a massive dragon. He stands before a pregnant woman, radiant and glorious. He is ready to devour her male child the moment he is born. This child, who is definitely Jesus, will rule all the nations. The woman represents, not specifically Mary, the mother of Jesus, but rather Israel, the people of God. Satan tries to kill Jesus before his time, but he fails — Jesus finished his mission on earth and then was caught up to Heaven. Then the devil turns his attention to Heaven to take it over. He wars against God but again loses his battle. The archangel Michael and his angels defeated Satan and his demons and cast them down to the earth. We do not know whether this detail has already happened or is still future, or both, but the devil is “filled with fury because he knows that his time is short.”
For the rest of the chapter and the rest of the book, he exerts all his effort against Jesus’ followers, “those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” He hates them. He is a very powerful foe but one who is frustrated again and again in his violent designs against God and his people. That is a great encouragement to us.
Satan’s Greatest Weapon (Revelation 13)
In chapter 13, Satan wields his greatest weapon against the church, the Antichrist. That word does not appear in Revelation, but is found elsewhere. Here we see Satan standing by the sea and summoning a beast from it. This image comes directly from Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7 in which four successive beasts emerge from a turbulent sea, each representing a world empire. In Revelation 13, there is one beast, one final terrifying empire, ultimately consolidated to the power of one man. 1 John 2 calls him the “Antichrist” — “You have heard that Antichrist is coming; even now many antichrists have come.”
This world ruler is given power over the entire earth. Previous wicked rulers have controlled at most only 1⁄4 of the earth (Genghis Khan) or less. This final tyrant will have it all. He will dominate it economically and militarily, but even more, he will dominate it in a religious sense. The people will worship him, because it appears that he died and came to life again. He is a parody of the Son of God.
The last part of the chapter concerns a second figure, the “False Prophet” or the Beast from the Earth, who uses false miracles, signs and wonders to persuade people to worship the Beast. In spite of the miracles, believers will not be deceived. He causes everyone to receive a mark on the forehead or hand, which is required for buying and selling. He will use the economic situation to force everyone to worship the Antichrist.
The Warning from God Proclaimed (Revelation 14)
In Revelation 14 we have a timeless warning concerning the terrors of Hell, of the judgment against any who receive the Mark of the Beast, who follow Satan in his rebellion against God. We must be faithful to tell our generation, even if we are not the final generation, that everyone who is condemned throughout history will be cast into the Lake of Fire, or Hell, experiencing eternal conscious torment. Revelation 14:11-12 says, “And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name. This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” We are to endure patiently and to labor for the glory of God; we will receive rewards for doing so.
The Seven Bowls (Revelation 16)
Revelation 16 brings the final judgments to be poured out on the earth. They parallel the seven trumpet judgments, but these are even more dreadful. Indeed, we cannot imagine the earth long enduring after them. This is the end. The first bowl brings malignant sores on the skin of people all over the world. The second bowl turns not one third but the entire ocean to blood and every living creature in the sea dies. The third bowl turns all fresh water to blood. The fourth bowl scorches people by searing heat from the sun. The fifth bowl results in an eerie, supernatural darkness. The sixth bowl opens the way for the kings of the earth to gather their armies to go a place, Armageddon, where the final battle will happen. The seventh bowl unleashes a massive earthquake and huge hailstones which kill many. The cumulative effect of all the events of Revelation is suffering but no repentance. Revelation 16:8-9 says, “…they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.”
Let me insert here: if you have repented of your sins because you know that you need a Savior, if you have turned in faith to Jesus Christ, then thank God for your salvation. This is a miracle of grace in each of your lives and you should never cease being thankful that God granted you the gift of repentance and faith in Jesus, because these people do not repent; their hearts are only hardened.
Babylon the Great (Revelation 17-18)
Revelation 17 and 18 take us backward to reveal the concept of the world, “Babylon the Great.” In Revelation 17 she is portrayed as a whore, dressed in rich purple robes. She is enticing and alluring and is getting drunk on immoral pleasures and on the blood of the saints. She represents the allure, the enticing power of Satan’s wicked, complex world system. In addition, Revelation 18 depicts Babylon as a powerful massive port city in which ships captains deposit their wares, signifying power and material wealth and prosperity and sexual allure and food — all the sensual pleasures of this present age, the world system.
The great whore Babylon is cast down by the power of God and destroyed by His judgment. In these chapters, God gives us a timeless warning from Heaven about the danger of Babylon: Revelation 18:4 says, “Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues…” Do not love the world or anything in it, the warning says.
The Second Coming of Christ (Revelation 19)
In Revelation 19 we have at last the Second Coming of Christ. As we saw from the beginning of the book, “Behold, he is coming soon.” He is returning after all the judgments have come. The armies of Antichrist gather in one place, Armageddon, to wipe out the remnant of God’s people on earth. They think it will be an easy battle. It will be, but not as they suppose, because at that moment, Jesus Christ comes from Heaven to rescue his Bride. He will not allow her to be erased from the face of the earth.
Revelation 19:11-16 says, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
The Beast and his armies fight against him, but in a vast understatement, they lose. It is not any effort for Jesus to win that battle; he simply wins.
A Thousand Years and the Final Judgment (Revelation 20)
The Beast and all who fight against Jesus on that battlefield are consigned to the Lake of Fire. Satan is bound for a thousand years so that he cannot deceive the nations any longer. At the end of the thousand years, he is released. He gathers an army from the ends of the earth in one final rebellion against Almighty God, but they are defeated. The devil is thrown at last into the Lake of Fire.
Then follows the Great White Throne judgment. Rev. 20:11-15 “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books... If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire.” All of God’s enemies are weeded out, thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Redeemed are all that are left.
New Heaven, New Earth, New Jerusalem (Revelation 21-22) and a Final Invitation (Revelation 22:17)
In Revelation 21 and 22, we have at last the goal of everything, The New Heaven and the New Earth, the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:1-4 says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”
We have studied the beauty of the New Jerusalem, the world that is coming. It is the capital city of God’s new universe, a radiant glorious place. Revelation 22:1-5 tells of its culmination: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
They will see his face — that is what I am looking forward to — the source of all goodness and holiness and beauty and perfection there has ever been, the thing that was denied to Moses on the mountain. He was told that was something no one ever had seen or can see. At last we will be in our resurrection bodies and we will be able to see the full glory of God in the face. We will thrive and serve Him forever.
The final verse in the Bible, Revelation 22:17, says, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”
Seven Timeless Lessons
Theme #1: God the Creator
First, God the Creator rules the world. This is the first most important lesson of Christian theology: there is a king, Almighty God, who rules all things, for He made all things. Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Every living thing on earth continues to exist because of the power of God the Creator, for in Him we live and move and have our being. Therefore, seek him continually in His kingly glory; submit yourself to His reign every moment of your lives. Make it your goal to please God the King with every fiber of your being.
Theme #2: Christ the Redeemer and Sinners
Second, Christ the Redeemer will triumph gloriously. The second greatest lesson of the Book of Revelation is really the first lesson extended to include human sinners: God reigns with and through His Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross, who shed his blood as an atoning sacrifice, for sinners all over the world. Christ, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, has triumphed already and will ultimately triumph. Christ the Lamb of God was slain and has risen from the dead. By his blood he purchased people for God from every nation on earth. He is worthy to take the scroll and open its seals. He is worthy not only to control history — he is history. He is the Alpha and the Omega and every letter in between. The unfolding of the history of the world, even to the end, is in Christ’s hands. At the end of the world, at his Second Coming, he will slaughter his unrepentant enemies mercilessly and powerfully. In the New Heaven, New Earth, New Jerusalem, Christ will reign with God gloriously and openly. Therefore, trust in him now. You have an opportunity before these events unfold to cross over from death to life. Trust in Jesus; repent, turn away from your sins. Ask God to give you the gift of repentance and faith while there is time.
Theme #3: Satan, Our Enemy
Third, Satan is a relentless foe who hates God and His people, who is vastly more powerful than any of us. In his hand the whole world does wickedness and evil. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” But praise God he is frustrated and defeated again and again and again by the sovereign power of God. Do not underestimate him: beware of his power, beware of the allure and pull of this satanic Babylon is on your soul. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. … For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” [1 John 2:15-16] That is Babylon. Flee it while you can.
Theme #4: Christians Must Overcome
Fourth, Christians must overcome by the Spirit. Revelation says repeatedly, “To him who overcomes…” in Revelation 2 and 3. Individual brothers and sisters in Christ have a battle, a warfare, to fight. It will not be easy to get to Heaven. We must conquer by the power of the Spirit.
Consider these verses:
- Revelation 2:7 “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
- Revelation 2:11 “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.”
- Revelation 3:21 “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
By faith in the Word of God, we overcome. Ephesians 6:10-13 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
Theme #5: A Countless Multitude
Fifth, a countless multitude will be redeemed. Put simply, missions will work, and are working already! Let us sacrifice to take the Gospel to every tribe, language, people and nation. Let us care about and pray for missions and be involved in evangelism right here. People from every tribe, language, people and nation, including thus far unreached people groups, will most certainly be standing before that throne.
Theme #6: Satan’s Servants
Sixth, Satan’s servants, the wicked, will be condemned. Paul had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” because of those who would be condemned to Hell. We should ask God to give us broken hearts over those who will be eternally punished. No book of the Bible so clearly depicts the ultimate end of the wicked as this book. Revelation 20:15 says, “If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire.” The recent volcanic eruption on one of the Hawaiian islands, which is now overflowed by lava, is the closest I can come to imagining swimming in a sea of lava, but that is what Hell is. In some mysterious way, God sustains the existence of those who are tortured in Hell. “The worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” It is eternal conscious torment. We must feel the burden of that for people who are lost around us more than we do.
Theme #7: The Old Universe and the New Universe
Seventh, the present universe, which is temporary, is under a curse. But someday a world, radiantly beautiful, will take its place. The New Heaven and the New Earth will come, and the New Jerusalem will be the capital city of that new empire. We will spend eternity looking at the glory of God in the new world that He will make. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. We will go in and out of the gates of the New Jerusalem and we will spend eternity celebrating the glory of God.
Father, we thank you for the book of Revelation. Thank you for its deep, powerful, rich interlocking themes. We thank you for the way it glorifies God and Christ. Thank you for the way it tells us the truth and warns us of “what must soon take place.” Nothing will stop the judgments that are coming. Help us, O Lord, to be vigilant over our own souls, that we be holy and that we not be worldly. And help us to be active in warning our generation of the coming wrath and urging people to flee and find refuge in Christ. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.