This study, taught by pastor Barry Forder at our Sunday morning service on Sunday 21st February 2016 is the 7th in our verse-by-verse study through the book of Revelation.
As we have previously noted, the book of Revelation is divided up into 3 sections as explained by Jesus Himself in Chapter 1 verse 19: The things that John had seen – i.e. the vision of Jesus in chapter one; the things that are – the things that existed at that time, namely the seven churches that have been the focus of Chapters 2 & 3, which also depict the seven eras of the church throughout history, and finally… The things that shall be ‘after these things’ – the things that will occur after the churches; literally, after the church age, once the Church has been taken out of this world.
Jesus made a promise to His disciples in John 14:1-3 that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house – Heaven – and He would one day come again and take us from earth to that place. From numerous scriptures, it seems this will occur before the time of Tribulation, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, in an event often referred to as the Rapture. (1 Corinthians 15:52 / 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The division of the book of Revelation, as noted above, supports this notion of a ‘pre-tribulation’ Rapture, where the Church will be taken to Heaven before the commencement of the Tribulation (also known as the ‘Day of the LORD’). Isaiah (Isaiah 13:9-11), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 46:10) and Daniel (Daniel 7:13-14) all underscore that the Tribulation will be a time of God’s judgment, when He pours out His wrath on this unbelieving and Christ-rejecting world.
It therefore follows that believers will not be here for this time of God’s wrath because we have already been declared ‘not guilty’ because of Christ’s completed work on the cross, where His blood was shed as payment in full for our sin. God’s wrath fell on His Son at Calvary (Isaiah 53:10), it will not fall again on the Church He has purchased. So, just as with Lot, who was removed from Sodom before the judgment fell (see Genesis 18:25), in like manor the Church will be removed – Raptured – prior to the Tribulation, just as Paul said: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
The Structure of Revelation 4-22
The events we will read about in chapters 4 – 22 are all a prophetic glimpse at future events, as seen and recorded by John, starting in chapters 4 & 5 with a vision of the Throne room of the Universe! We find that thrones are mentioned 51x in the New Testament, with 39 of these occurring in Revelation, and 17 being found in chapters 4 & 5. The very first thing John notices – amidst all the wonderful sights in Heaven – is the throne, and more importantly, the One sat on the throne!
After talking to the disciples about the events of the Tribulation, Jesus said: “pray that you be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:36). It is the fulfillment of this that we will see in chapters 4 & 5 when the Church will indeed stand before the Son of Man. The events that follow, in chapters 6-19, are the ‘things that shall come to pass’, from which Jesus promises His own a way of escaping from.
The Tribulation will conclude with the Second Coming of Jesus and will then lead into a literal millennial (1000 year) reign of Jesus Christ on this earth. Is this important? Absolutely! Our whole view of scripture, both Old Testament and New Testament, will be affected by our understanding of these things, and the way we understand the many prophecies about this period of time.
Chapters 20-22 then take us into the Millennial kingdom where Christ will reign on earth, and then …“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev 21:3-4)
Chapter 4 – The Throne Room of the Universe
Chapter 4 gives us a unique glimpse of the throne room of Heaven. We see wonderful angelic creatures, an ’emerald’ rainbow around the throne, a staggering sea of glass, like crystal, 24 Elders, but most importantly, we see the One on the throne! What a comfort to know that, despite the way this world is unraveling, God is still on the throne!
We also get a glimpse of an event yet future, when all those who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb will cast our crowns before Him in the ultimate act of worship to the One who is worthy to receive glory, honour and power: for He has created all things, and for His pleasure they are and were created!
As well as the audio, PDF PowerPoint slides used in the study are available for download.
To encourage you to study this chapter in more detail there is a verse-by-verse text commentary in the Pastor’s blog section of this website.
May you be blessed by this study as you continue to grow in knowledge and grace