In this episode, we turn to the book of Revelation to uncover some surety in the midst of a lot of mystery. As we continue our look into the history of prophecy, we explore what it looks like to discern and steward what we can and trust God with what we cannot. Unpacking the scriptures in Revelation, we find that we can be sure about what it means to overcome. Beyond that, we can trust that God is in control and his justice will prevail. The aim of prophecy is not to tell us what we cannot know but to help us steward what we can.
Jesus is coming back, and he’s going to set up his kingdom, and it’s going to be awesome; and I so much look forward to it.
This whole story of Jesus’ return culminates in Revelation. What I want to do is start today with the things that we can be sure about.
As I’ve emphasized and in response to one of the questions that I got, the Jewish scholars were brilliant people, and they knew the Bible backwards and forwards. They missed the sequence of Jesus’ advent.
I don’t think we’re as smart as they were, biblically, and I just don’t think we can be very dogmatic about how this is going to pan out.
But there are some things that we can be really sure about.
Turn with me to Revelation 22, if you would. We’ll look at Revelation 22 and then the first part of Revelation. These parts, I think, we can be really sure about. This is the point of Revelation.
The person who keeps the words of the this book will be blessed
Revelation 22:7. This is Jesus speaking. “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Let’s flip back over to chapter 1 of Revelation.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,
who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.
Blessed is he who does three things:
2. Hears. How can you read something without hearing it? What does he mean here? Applies it. Understands it. Understand what it’s saying. Read it. Understand it. And—
3. Keeps those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
How did you keep something that you read and understand? How did you keep it? Observe it. Do it.
Read it, understand it, do it. That’s what this is. Can you do the future? We can’t do the future.
This is so we will be inspired now, the way we live now. That’s what this book is for.
We’re not supposed to use Revelation to game the system
It’s just in the human nature to figure out the system so you can kind of find a loophole and get what you want. Right? If you have children, they do this, don’t they? As little bitty kids. They figure out, “Well, you didn’t say I couldn’t have a Rice Krispies treat. You just said I couldn’t have a cookie,” or whatever. There’s always legalism involved.
What we’re not trying to do here is figure out how this system’s going to work so we can figure out, “OK, well, good. I can skate by, right up until this point.” That’s not the idea here at all. The idea here is to live with the sense of urgency of Jesus’ return at any time.
Revelation is written to believers
Let’s go back to 22:12.
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
Revelation does not come in and overturn the overriding message in the Bible of salvation by grace through faith. But Revelation is written to, who? Believers. Specifically, who? The seven churches. It’s an epistle to churches. Churches are made up of believers.
Some will say, well, yeah, but there are always some unbelievers. Well, maybe. There might be some unbelievers in a church. That’s not the essence of this at all.
At the time this is written, unbelievers would not have gone to church in order to sell more insurance policies. There was a lot of persecution, and so forth, going on.
—to give to every one according to his work.
Current benefits of walking in the Spirit
This is about cause-effect. There is an impact to everything we do in this life. It’s not just now, although it is now. If we live an obedient life now, we get immense benefits from that. What are some of them? What are the benefits of walking in the Spirit?
Peace. Peace instead of what? What’s the opposite of peace? Turmoil, anxiety.
What’s another benefit of walking in the Spirit today?
Joy. What’s the opposite of joy? Wrath, sorrow, anxiety.
We like those things better, right? You get a current benefit. This current benefit compounds all the way into eternity. We’re supposed to live not only with today in mind, but with this eminence of Jesus’ return in mind.
Verse 13. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Everything’s summed up in me.
Verse 16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches.
This is written to believers so that we will read, understand, obey. That part’s really clear. Revelation is the simplest book that there is. It’s super clear.
We’re to obey the words of this book
Let me go through some of the things we really can know from Revelation. Verse 1:3, we can know that we’re to obey.
Let’s look at chapter 3. This is kind of the culmination of the letters to the churches which we don’t have time to do today. Look at verse 14 in chapter 3. There are seven letters to churches. This is a letter to the church at Laodicea. By the way, Revelation was one of the last books admitted to the New Testament canon. The church that held it up was the church at Laodicea. You’ll see why here in a second.
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
The picture here is that Laodicea apparently had beautiful, wonderful spring water and mineral baths. So you could go to the hot water and get healed, or you could drink and enjoy the cold water. But what happens if you take the cold mineral water that comes out of your tap and mix it with the mineral water you go take an Epsom salt bath in? What do you do with that? Take a nice swig of that, and what are you going to do? You’re going to spit it out, right? I think that’s the picture here.
Because you’re neither cold nor hot, you’re not useful. You’re useless. And here’s the useless attitude:
The spirit of our age: We don’t need God
Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—
This is the reality of America today, and I think there’s usually considered an historical sequence to the letters, a spirit of the age of different historical eras. This is kind of the spirit of our age. We’ve become immensely wealthy as a nation and even as a world. And say, “Yeah, we don’t need God anymore.”
The reality is we’re wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
The spirit of our age says no, no, no. We’re all OK. Everything’s fine. The only problem we have is we don’t think enough of ourselves.
They did a survey and discovered the segment of the population with the highest self-esteem: prisoners. They think they’re fine.
Our current reality
But we really are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. We’re needy people in need of a savior, in need of dependence and obedience.
He says, I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed—
Gold refined in the fire are these works that we live in. If you walk in accordance to the things of Jesus, it is painful, and we get refined.
Forgiveness is very painful, to forgive someone. It is extremely painful to stand for what’s true when everybody’s trying to get you to do what’s not true.
That’s very difficult. That refines us and puts us in the fire so that we can become purer.
We’re naked. We just don’t have anything to offer. Reading, hearing, keeping, that’s what clothes us in the righteousness of God. And Dr. Rodmaker has this saying, “There’ll be a lot of bikini believers at the Bema standing with everything burned up in our G-strings. And he says, “Don’t do that!” Be clothed.
I counsel you to buy from Me… clothing—that your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
Rebuking and chastening has gone out of favor in parenting in America. Have you noticed this? God is a good parent, and he rebukes and chastens.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
I want to have a fellowship life with you, and I’m knocking, and I want to have it. I just need you to open the door. This is actually not a justification verse, it’s a fellowship verse.
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne—
This is the future thing. So hallelujah! The Lord has come. His kingdom is now of this world, and who’s going to be reigning with him? Overcomers.
—as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
This is Philippians 2. Although he existed in the form of God, he didn’t regard that something to be held onto, but he became obedient, even to death on the cross and learned obedience in his life; and as a result, as a reward, his name was elevated above every name, and he was enthroned.
Jesus says, “I did that.” Did Jesus accept Jesus as his savior and believe Jesus in his heart. He did not do that, did he? That’s not overcoming.
What did Jesus overcome? Death. What else did he overcome? Sin. Temptation. Just like we did, scripture tells us. He overcame temptation in every way as we did. Instead of following the world’s way, man’s way, he said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan. You’re thinking about man’s thoughts, not God’s.” He followed God’s way in perfect obedience. He’s asking us to do likewise. He says, “That’s whose going to reign with me.”
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”
This is clear. We can really understand this. This is imminent, and everything we do in this life absolutely matters for all eternity. Some will overcome; some will not. The ones who do get a reward beyond our imagination. We can say these words, but we won’t really, fully have the capacity to comprehend what this means. That we can be clear of.
God is in control
Another thing we can be clear of, looking at chapters 4-19, which goes through the tribulation, which, again, we’re not going to go into today. This seven years where the Bible tells us if God hadn’t shortened it, the whole world would have been destroyed. That things are going to get worse before things get better. We can know that
We can know that God’s in control. That’s really clear. Absolutely. It’s going to turn out just like he said it’s going to turn out.
Justice will prevail
Another thing we can know is justice is going to prevail. It’s easy, in our world, to look at genocide going on in Africa, and look at 40 million babies killed in our nation, and look at all these different things going on even in our own lives. We think, well, what am I doing? What am I thinking? We can look at all these things and say, something’s wrong with this world. Why isn’t it being made right? It will be made right. All things will be made right. Justice will prevail.
One of the amazing things that happens in Revelation is that there’s a group of martyrs underneath the altar in front of Jesus. They turn around to Jesus and say, “I’ve got a question.”
“Yes? Yes, I call on you.”
He says, “How long are you going to wait before you avenge our deaths?”
Very interesting, huh? In heaven.
There’s the old phrase “time shall be no more.” In a sense that’s true in that we’re not going to have an end to our lives. But in another sense, we’re going to be very aware that time’s marching on.
They’re tired of waiting. What do they want? Justice. Because justice is something deeply engrained in us. We want it. It’s going to be given.
Paul said judge nothing before the time. Judge nothing before the time. Nobody’s going to get away with anything. You don’t have to worry about that. Andrew, you probably see injustice go on fairly often, don’t you? Being a prosecutor? Yeah. It probably bugs you, right? I suppose you probably have to say, deep breath, they’re not going to get away with it.
We can be really confident. These are things that we can really know. The sequence of how exactly it’s going to—when the battles are going to happen, and which one’s going to come first, and who Gog is, and who Magog is—it’s interesting to speculate on all those things, and there are good books out there on that. I’m just trying to focus in on the things we can really know.
It will be worth it
We can really know that being an overcomer will absolutely be worth it. That we can really know.
Jesus comes to make war and to judge
Let’s look at some actual events. Turn to Revelation 19 with me. We’ll look at “the Eagle has landed” here. Except on earth. Chapter 19 verse 11.
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True—I have to tell you, Dr. Anderson says that in the Hebrew, the white horse is not translated properly. He says it should be “the white Harley.” He’s a big motorcycle guy. We’ll just have to take his word for that.
—behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
Again, I just want to stop for just a second. This idea that the Old Testament God was mean and the New Testament God was nice—well, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Here he’s coming. What’s Jesus coming to do? Make war.
The first time he came, and he said I didn’t come even to judge. I came to make peace and to serve. This goes back to the justice thing. Judge nothing before the time.
There will be righteousness and justice
Overcomers are going to be issuing justice. Overcomers are those who agreed to serve in this life. It’s a pattern for us.
Verse 12. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
I suppose that these are the same garments that God’s asking us to buy as overcomers. How do we buy those garments? Where are they sold? What store are they sold in? The store of obedience. The store of good works. The store of trials. Of loving others who don’t love you back. The store of serving your children who all they are is selfish little selfish machines.
And they followed Him on white horses.
There are going to be animals in the millennial kingdom. There are some strange and bizarre creatures in heaven right now that I’m really looking forward to getting to know. I think one of the fun things is going to be getting to interact with animals on the basis that we should be able to interact with them on.
Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.
What does that mean, rule them with a rod of iron? Justice. When is justice going to be done in this new reign? Always. It’s going to be done always. There’s not going to be any patronage system. There’s not going to be any pay to play. There’s not going to be any buy off the government officials by corrupt Mafia dons. It’s not going to happen. There’s going to be righteousness and justice. And when justice is done it’s going to be done.
He Himself—Jesus—treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
You’ve heard of the grapes of wrath. This is the grapes of wrath. How do you tread out grapes in this era? What do you do? Squish them with your feet! You see the picture? He’s taking people that have sinned, and, if you will, squishing them. He’s taking the sins of the world and squishing them and getting them right.
And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.
Here’s Jesus coming out of the sky.