After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were a trumpet talking with me; which said, come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.
2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne…
We begin with the subject of Judgment, hinted at here in our opening text from Rev. 4:1&2. This is in regard to the long awaited judgment of God that was to occur at the end of the world. The significance of this as part of the greater truths of God and salvation was of paramount consideration to our Mt. Carmel community. It provided the backdrop against which we understood ourselves and our sense of purpose. The matters concerning David Koresh and the role our Mt. Carmel community would play in the unfolding drama of end time events were inextricably tied to it. It is my purpose in this chapter to present enough of a foundation that will allow this relationship to reveal itself. This requires an overview of the book of Revelation where a detailed account of these matters is given.
At the time the apostle John wrote the text I used to open this chapter he was imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos. He tells of this as part of his introduction to what would later become known as the book of Revelation. Note chapter 1:9,
9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
It was not long after Christ ascended to heaven and the disciples began their missionary work that they became the target of persecution. An attempt to eradicate the fledgling movement as was done to Christ before them at his crucifixion. In the course of things several of the apostles were eventually killed. Here John was imprisoned on a small volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of what is now Turkey. Being imprisoned for ones beliefs is an experience I also know well. While imprisoned John informs us he received a visit from an angel sent to him from heaven by Christ. He describes the visit in verses 10-20. Briefly, in verse 10, he tells of how he was in the spirit when he heard a great voice behind him which sounded like a trumpet. When he turned around he saw, “…seven golden candlesticks.” In the midst of the candlesticks stood the angel, whom he proceeds to describe in verses 13-16. In verse 17, he states,
17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, fear not; I am the first and the last:
John was rendered unconscious at what he saw and was subsequently revived. The angel instructed him to write about the visit and gave him a series of messages from Christ to relay to the churches that existed at the time. This information takes us to the end of chapter 3. We shall focus on aspects of this in due course. Essentially, what this represented was mail sent from Christ in heaven to a group of people alive nearly 2,000 years ago. This is not to suggest it is of no relevance to us who live today, only that the immediate context should not be lost sight of.
In Rev 4, a significant development takes place. The focus shifts from earth to heaven. This is where verses 1&2, in our opening text to this chapter pick up the story. John draws our attention to a door opened in heaven. The angel that visited him in chapter 1, who spoke with a voice that sounded like a trumpet, invited him up to heaven. Note again what John stated in verse 2,
2 And immediately I was in the spirit; and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
In an instant John now finds himself in heaven. See how easy it is to go to heaven! You don’t even need a passport. The trick is to get invited. When you are invited or summoned to the dwelling place of God he provides you with the means to get there. You will remember what happened with the prophet Elijah noted in 2Kings 2:1-12. His ride was a chariot of fire with horses of fire. Without an invitation you have to find your own way. It causes you to wonder what those folks were really trying to do by building that Tower back there in Gen 11:1-9. I would suppose it is the same idea behind the present space program. Still, I cannot think of anyone who has made this journey by their own volition. In this instance it took “spirit” power to get John there. But what we are really concerned to know is what did he go up to heaven to see? In verse 1, the angel told him he would be shown, “…things which must be hereafter.” He was being informed about what would take place in the future. We now live in the future of John’s day. This information would be of interest to us who are alive today. It can be thought of as mail sent to us from heaven about ourselves generations before we were even born. Think of what this means. What we have here in what John records amounts to an unbroken link between Christ in heaven and his followers here on earth. It keeps us informed about things which are of relevance today and important to our salvation. These are the things Christ would be talking to us about were he now present with us on earth.
John proceeds in chapter 4, to describe the scene he saw in heaven. Note the description of the throne and the one sat on it in verse 3. This is the centre-piece from which everything else derives its significance. Around the throne were 24 seats with 24 elders seated. Note also the sea of glass like crystal and the other objects before the throne which John draws our attention to. In verse 6, he describes 4 beasts who continually offer praise to the one sat on the throne. Ever wondered why that is? Or even what this represents? In addition to the one sat on the throne, the 24 elders and the 4 beasts, John tells us in Rev 5:11, that there were many angels also present. Heaven is seen here gathered together for some important event. What might this be?
This is not the first time that the scriptures speak of these heavenly councils. You will recall what was written in Job 1:6&7,
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before YHWH, and Satan came also among them.
7 And YHWH said unto Satan, whence comest thou? Then Satan answered YHWH, and said, from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it
There are other such references to a heavenly court found in Isaiah 6 and 1Kings 22:19. Each of these instances reveals a definite purpose behind these gatherings. They are usually related to some matter to do with the earth. Here in the case of Job it concerned some challenge that Satan leveled at God regarding the authenticity of Job’s faith in him.
What proceeded was a trial designed to arrive at a judgment. It is interesting to note from Job’s experience that in order to arrive at the answer the issue in question was not dealt with theoretically but actually. It was directly played out in the life of Job. In this way there could be no uncertainty regarding the outcome. The truth of the matter would be perfectly established beyond any doubt. You may recall also the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah noted in Genesis 18. Before punishment could be executed upon these cities it was stated in verses 20&21,
20 And YHWH said, because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
Here too the truth of the matter would be established beyond any doubt. In both these cases we are given some insights into the nature and certainty of how heaven deals with earth in important matters of judgment.
Let us now return to our review of the book of Revelation. Beyond the scenery of the judgment court shown in chapter 4, we continue in chapter 5. Here we are shown the central focus of this gathering. Note verse 1,
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book, written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
It concerns a sealed book. In verse 2, John continues further,
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
This is what the issue is about. A sealed book and who is worthy to open it. In response to the angel a search is made in heaven, on earth and under the earth among the dead to discover whether there was anyone worthy. None was found. This caused John much concern. In verse 4, he wept. He realized that the opening of this book meant something of great importance. Why else would all of heaven be gathered together in light of it? Obviously it had something to do with the salvation of mankind and was important to heaven also. It will be shown that we could not move forward beyond the present state of things here on earth without this judgment taking place. What was contained in the book was the key bringing this about. It needed to be opened, but by whom?
What was this book anyway? Without digressing too far, it has its counterpart here on earth. The information it contains has been revealed from time to time through God’s appointed servants and prophets. This information is among that which came to comprise the scriptures. We are shown this in the book of Daniel. Similar to what we saw with John in Rev 1, here the angel Gabriel paid a visit to Daniel. In chapter 10:21, he told him,
21 But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.
This information was sealed until the end of time as we were further told in Daniel 12:4, 8-10. Later we explore this in connection with the angel of Rev. 10, who comes to earth at the end of time with a, “...little book opened in his hand…” The prophet Jeremiah was also instructed concerning this. We read in Jeremiah 23:18-20,
18 For who hath stood in the counsel of YHWH, and hath perceived and heard his word? Who hath marked his word, and heard it?
19 Behold, a whirlwind of YHWH is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind; it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked
20 The anger of YHWH shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.
When Christ appeared in the earth 2,000 years ago, had he been received it was his purpose to open to us back then these hidden meanings of scripture. We are shown in Luke 24:25-27, 44-46, and in Hebrews 2:1-4 that he was barely allowed to scratch the surface of the deeper meanings they contained. You will note in the Hebrews 2:1-4 reference, how Paul emphasizes the significance of this to our salvation. This further affirms why John “…wept much…” in Rev 5:4, when no one was found worthy to open the book.
We see in Rev 5:5, that John was comforted by one of the elders who informed him that someone had in fact prevailed to open the book and to loose the seals. He is spoken of as the “…Lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David…” In verse 6, he is shown as a lamb that had been slain, “… having seven horns and seven eyes…” which are referred to as, “… the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” There is meaning to all of this. In verse 7, he comes and takes the book out of the right hand of the one sat on the throne. After he takes the book he receives glory, praise and honour of all who were present for having prevailed.
What we have covered so far shows the essential context of the Judgment. The court with all who were shown present and the matter of the book sealed with seven seals before the court. What follows for us to know relates to the contents of the book. It is also important not to lose sight of the fact that what we are being shown here is an event that was to take place in heaven not here on earth. This would be of relevance to us who are alive today because this was the time when this event would actually occur. It provides us with important information that allows us to know the meaning and significance of the time we are living in as it is viewed from heaven. This is of greater importance for us to know than the engagement in the formalities and rituals associated with church practice. If these hold any significance at all it would be as they take place in the knowledge of the matters concerning the judgment, not in ignorance of them. I am reminded here of the conversation between Christ and the woman of Samaria recorded in John 4:4-42. When she questioned him concerning the matter of worship he responded in verses 23&24, with the following,
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the father in spirit and in truth: for the father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
True worship of God is not about our feelings or pious sentiments. You might consider Isaiah 1, where such worship is rejected due to a lack of an intelligent understanding of matters of God. We saw the true worship of God in Spirit and in Truth demonstrated in Rev 5:8-14, with those up in heaven. This worship sprang from knowing the truth of what was going on concerning the Judgment. It was not a routine formality arising from individual concerns and feelings. Rather, it was about God and Truth.
What we have been discussing here in these matters concerning the Judgment provides a platform that allows us to transcend the limited confines of our own consciousness and Being. It aims to restore our link with heaven by re-establishing us again in the one cosmic consciousness. This releases us from the bondage of separation we are now imprisoned in. And which is felt as a lack of meaningful understanding and connectedness with matters of God and truth. While in this state we generally turn to our own personal self interest or religious sentiment in an attempt to fill the void. Transcending this is the very essence of what salvation is about. We cannot remain the way we now are for this is the problem. It is a state of death, not of life. To reach beyond it involves more than we can come up with ourselves. Can man bring himself back from death? This is as much a creative work of God as the creation of the heavens and the earth recorded in the book of Genesis.
We continue in Rev 6, where the lamb begins to open the seals. Notice the noise of thunder in verse 1, as he opens the first seal,
And I saw when the lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, come and see.
2 And I saw and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forward conquering, and to conquer.
This is all we are given of the first seal. A man riding a white horse, he has a bow and he is given a crown. He is obviously engaged in some kind of warfare. But what does this actually mean? As he opens the second seal, we are shown the following in verse 4,
4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given to him a great sword.
Where are these horses coming from? Who is the rider? As with the first seal, under the second seal we are also shown a rider on a horse, this time a red horse. In addition we are also given a little more information. We know this has something to do with the earth. It talks about taking peace from the earth causing men to kill one another. But what does it relate to? We continue as the lamb opens the third seal in verse 5,
5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
The white and the red horse are joined by a black horse. It is tempting to try and offer up some interpretation regarding what these mean. However, it was already established that only the lamb had prevailed to open the book and to loose the seals. It would therefore follow that only the lamb can show the meaning. Notice the pair of balances and the price for the wheat and barley. In due course these snippets of information will help us discern the actual meanings. In verse 8, we continue with the fourth seal,
8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was death, and hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beast of the earth.
These matters spoken of under the fourth seal are far from comforting. There are some serious killings to take place as death and hell are here brought to view. You will remember the angel who visited John in Rev 1, at the beginning. He told John in verse 18, he had, “… the keys of hell and of death.” What did this mean?
When it comes to Judgment this is something to be taken very seriously. One cannot underscore the gravity of this enough. I am prompted to think back to the days of Noah and the flood noted in Genesis 6-8. It was written in chapter 6:12&13, concerning the people who lived back then,
12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt: for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
13 And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Consider also the case of Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen. 18:20ff. Abraham’s pleading with God to spare these cities in the face of the evils that were committed in them highlights how serious this was. The Judgment of God is concerned with issues of eternal consequence. We are talking about Truth and Justice, Right and Wrong the principles underlying Life itself. How are these to be approached? The very idea that they are addressed by God rather than being left to man is itself indicative of how important they are. There is no room for error.
The information given under the fourth seal, despite the horror of it, is intended to keep us realistically informed of what the world is to face. The lamb continues in verse 9, with the fifth seal,
9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
11 And white robes were given to every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
The opening of the fifth seal brings a different feel to these events. The reference to horses that were seen under the first four seals are now gone. There is a greater plainness in the language used. Here we are shown a group of people who are killed but are still alive. Their souls apparently survived the death of their bodies. They are shown appealing to God to avenge their deaths on those responsible. Who are these people and where are they now? What was it about them that caused their souls to survive the death of their bodies? You will notice in verse 9, the reason they were killed, “…for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” Back in Rev 1:18, the angel who visited John was quoted in verse 18, saying,
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
We shall visit this again when the meanings of the seals are addressed in greater detail. We continue as the lamb opens the sixth seal. What it reveals comes with unmistakable plainness of meaning. Consider verses 12-17,
12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
14 And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and to the rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
At the opening of the sixth seal the world confronts the reality of the Judgment firsthand. It breaks in on the earth with much fanfare. Instead of man going to heaven for judgment as was the case with John, the Judgment comes to earth. The nature of what is shown here should leave no question concerning what John went to heaven to see. Notice the question asked at the end of verse 17, by those mentioned in the preceding two verses, “…who shall be able to stand?” Apparently it takes the world by surprise and yet it is not a surprise. Remember those shown slain under the fifth seal. How does that connect with the opening of the sixth seal? There must be a reason it was mentioned. It happened here on earth during the time of the Judgment. It would have been something known about.
We continue the narrative in Rev. 7, where we are given the answer to the question, “…who shall be able to stand?” posed at the end Rev. 6: 17. Here we are shown four angels holding back the four winds of the earth. Note verse 1,
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the winds should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
In verses 2&3, we continue further as we are shown another angel ascending from the east,
2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3 saying, hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Notice, there are five angels mentioned here. All five of them are on earth performing a work designed to prepare people in order that they might be able to stand when the sixth seal is opened. The angel shown ascending from the east has with him the seal of the living God. Together their work was to seal 144,000, noted in verses 4-8, and a great multitude, noted in verses 9-17. Now all of this takes place before the sixth seal is opened. In Rev. 6:13, as the sixth seal is opened reference is made to a mighty wind. When the four winds are let loose this is how it is created. It is spoken of else where in scriptures as a whirlwind. You will recall our earlier reference to Jeremiah 23:18-20. Notice again the angel ascending from the east. The fact that he is ascending implies he was already down on the earth. Who is this angel and what was he doing before being shown ascending in Rev. 7:2?
Before we continue it is relevant here to consider a parable Christ taught recorded in Mt.13. Note verses 24-30,
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25 But while men slept, his enemies came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then have it tares?
28 He said unto them, an enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, wilt thou then that we go and gather them up.
29 But he said, nay: lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30 Let them both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.
The meaning of this parable is explained in verses 36-43. We will consider this further in Chapter Five, “…together until the harvest.” For our purposes here notice verse 39, where it is states, “…the harvest is the end of the world and the reapers are the angels.” The reference Christ makes in this parable to the work of the angels at the end of the world is precisely what is being fulfilled with these angels shown here in Rev. 7. You will appreciate that this parable was given before John received the Revelation. Evidently, Christ knew the mechanics of the Judgment while on earth 2,000 years ago.
As we continue the narrative of Rev. 7, the question remains who was that angel in verse 2, shown ascending from the east with the seal of the living God? What was he doing on the earth before ascending? Notice he had power to command the other four angels of verse 1. You will recall those killed under the fifth seal. They, along with the 144,000 and the great multitude that were to be sealed, are brought to view at the time the seals are being opened. Obviously they had already been sealed. It was stated that, “…white robes were given unto every one of them…” It also states they were killed for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. What was this testimony and where did they get it from?
Let us fast forward to Rev. 10. Here we are given some helpful information that allows us to answer these questions. Note verses 1-7,
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the earth.
3 And he cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
4 And when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, seal up those things that the seven thunders uttered,and write them not.
5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven.
6 And swear by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
The opening of the book sealed with seven seals takes place in heaven but it concerns matters here on earth. How are we here on earth to know what all this truly means? Here in Rev. 10, we are shown an angel who comes to earth. Notice the description given of him. In verse 1, he is “…clothed with a cloud…a rainbow upon his head…face as it were the sun…feet as pillars of fire.” There is meaning to all of this, but of more importance verse 2 states, “…he had in his hand a little book open.” and in verse 3, “…he cried with a loud voice as when a lion roareth:” Further, “...when he cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.” John informs us in verse 4, “…when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.” There was obviously some important information here that for whatever reason John was not permitted to disclose. In verse 6, the angel announces, “…there should be time no longer:” and in verse 7, he speaks of, “…the mystery of God…” that should be, “…finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.”
Now who is this angel and what is this mystery of God? Clearly, whoever he is he comes to earth to teach mankind something. We see from the information that this is related to the Judgment. You will recall in Rev. 5, the book sealed with seven seals and the lamb, also referred to as the lion of the tribe of Juda, who had prevailed to open the book. In chapter 6:1, when he opened the first seal there was the, “…noise of thunder…” The connection here is quite clear. In Rev. 7:2, we noted the angel ascending from the east with, “…the seal of the living God.” In connection with the other four angels he would proceed to seal 144,000 and a great multitude. What is the seal of the living God and how do we know whether or not we are sealed? How does this connect with the angel of Rev. 10, and the, “…little book open…” in his hand? Prior to being shown ascending, this angel of Rev. 7, was already down on earth doing something. The group of people shown under the fifth seal they too were sealed. This obviously occurred before the other two groups he was to also seal. It was said concerning those under the fifth seal they were, “…slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” They had obviously learned something, referred to here as the testimony. We are dealing with the knowledge and understanding of God held by angels. That which accords them their distinctiveness of Being. What would it accord men to learn this knowledge? You will recall what Christ stated in Luke 20:34-38 about men becoming as the angels.
In the remainder of Rev. 10, John provides us additional information. He notes being instructed, in the latter part of the chapter, to take the little book in the angel’s hand and eat it up. Presumably, digest its contents. He was told it would be sweet in his mouth but bitter in his belly. As John ate the book he confirmed it was so. What he may or may not have realized this would involve something further. In verse 11, the angel also told him he, “…must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” Having to endure further persecution for the truth of God was a bitter prospect. Nonetheless, John obviously persevered. By writing the Book of Revelation as instructed, he did prophesy again. The information it contained has remained on record as a witness down through the centuries to the preset time, for all who would seek to know.
This narrative between the angel and John carries over into Rev. 11 where he further instructs John of other events to occur in the future. In verses 3-13, we are introduced to the matter concerning the Two Witnesses. The nature of the information given here makes clear it speaks of an event that occurs on earth at the time of the end. It is needful to relate this detail as an additional part of the puzzle that allows us to arrive at the big picture. Note the following,
3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy; and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and shall kill them.
8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our lord was crucified.
9 And they of the people and kindred and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth.
11 And after three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, come up hither. And ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and there were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
In addition to learning when the two Witnesses would prophesy we also needed to establish who they were. Furthermore, as witnesses, what exactly do they witness to? Dealing with the last question first, in verse 3, the angel stated to John, “…I will give power unto my two witnesses…” Evidently their witness has to do with this angel. This would relate of course to the Judgment. Notice too that they were clothed in, “…sackcloth.” What does this mean? Are we literally talking about a coarse fabric for making sacks or does this refer to something else?
The matter of the two witnesses is part of the, “…mystery of God…” mentioned by the angel of Rev. 10, in verse 7. This mystery was previously shown to God’s servants the prophets as the text also states. We turn then to the prophets to discover who they are and the event concerning them noted in Rev.11, above. Beginning in Zech. 4:3, 11-14, we find the same reference to the, “…two olive trees…” noted in Rev. 11:4. They are also referred to as the, “…two anointed ones, that stand by the lord of the whole earth.” Back in Rev. 11:6, it was said concerning them,
6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy; and have power over waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues as often as they will.
It was the prophet Elijah back in 1kings 17, who had the power to shut heaven preventing the rain from falling. With regard to the waters turning to blood and the earth being smitten with plagues, this takes us back to Moses in Ex. 7-12. You will recall the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt. In both the Zech. 4:14, and Rev. 11:4, it stated that these witnesses, “…stand by the God of the earth.” You will recall in Mt. 17:1-9, when Christ took Peter, James and John up to the mountain where he was transfigured. It was Moses and Elijah who appeared to them. This was also noted in Luke 9:28-36, where it was stated in verse 35, “And there came a voice saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” Evidently, this event bore witness to who Christ was, the Son of God.
Moses and Elijah embodied the Law and the Prophets of scripture. In Isaiah 8:20, it is referred to as, “…the law and the testimony…” These bear witness of the Word of God, made flesh in the person of Christ. In Luke 24:44, it is recorded Christ said to his disciples after his resurrection,
44 And he said unto them, these are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me.
You will also remember what was written in Mal. 4:4&5, about Moses and Elijah in the last days,
4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I command unto him in Horeb, for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of YHWH.
The event spoken of in Rev.11, concerning the two witnesses is what was referred to here.
When he came to earth 2,000 years ago, Christ identified the spirit of Elijah in the person
of John the Baptist. Note what he said recorded in Mt. 11:13&14,
13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied unto John.
14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elijah, which was to come.
Consider also Mt. 17:10-13, and John 1:15-18. Of course, the reference to the two witnesses noted in Rev.11:3-13, spoke of an appearance of Moses and Elijah that would occur after the Christ event 2,000 years ago. This would take place at the end of the world, before the events described under the sixth seal in Rev.6:12-17. You will also recall that the angel who spoke with John, informing him of these matters, appeared to him some time after Christ had already ascended to heaven.
It will be useful to note that Moses died before the children of Israel entered Canaan. He was not permitted to enter there. With regard to Elijah, it was during the time of the kings that he was taken to heaven. Both these events occurred centuries before they appeared to Christ on the Mountain recorded in Mt. 17:1-9. Obviously, Moses had been resurrected. It was stated in Luke 9:31 that they, “…appeared in glory.” They were in their resurrected and translated states. This appears to have rendered them free from
confinement to time and space. What form would they take when they appear again in the last days? Is it possible they might already have appeared and been seen of men but not recognized for who they are? This has happened before. Consider what Christ stated in Mt. 17:12&13, concerning Elijah when he appeared back then,
12 But I say unto you, that E-lias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
You will also notice in Rev. 11:7 that after the two witnesses gave their testimony they would be killed. Under the fifth seal we saw a group of people who were killed for the word of God and for the testimony that they held. There is a further connection here to Rev. 12. Read carefully the entire chapter for an overall sense of what is contained in the text. For our immediate purposes here note verses 6, 11, 14-17. In verse 6, we are shown a woman who flees to the wilderness,
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
What does this mean? Notice while in the wilderness she would be fed, “…a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” The time period mentioned here is exactly the same as the two witnesses were to prophesy in Rev. 11:3. Who is this woman and by what means is she fed? It further states in verse 17, after she is nourished, the dragon who is also shown here as the devil, would make war against her and the remnant of her seed that, “…keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” You will recall what happened to the two witnesses after they had given their testimony. Also the group of people, “…slain…” under the fifth seal, “…for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:” Clearly these three events relate to the same thing. In Rev. 12:11, we are given some additional information about a group of people who overcome the devil. Note the reference to the word of their testimony,
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death.
Obviously, in this war shown here there is a mix of the Spiritual and the physical, the supernatural and the natural, the seen and the unseen. In the midst of this there is something about an article referred to as the testimony. What is this? It must be very powerful to cause the devil to want to keep mankind from knowing about it by killing those who have it. We saw in verse 11, that it empowered them to overcome him. What does this have to do with the angel of Rev. 10, and the, “…little book open…” in his hand? Also, the angel ascending from the east in Rev. 7:2, with the, “…seal of the living God”? Clearly, whoever is sealed by this causes the devil to lose power over them.
Notice also the beast that wars against the two witnesses and kills them in Rev. 11:7. In connection with the dragon of Rev. 12, we are given additional information concerning this in Rev. 13&17. Without doubt the matters concerning the two witnesses are of an event that occurs in the future of John’s day. The opening of the book sealed with seven seals explains the meaning of all this. This part of the narrative continues all the way to Rev. 11:15, when the seventh angel sounds. You will recall what was said by the angel of Rev. 10, in verse 7,
7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
The event of the two witnesses relates to the mystery of God spoken of here. It also relates to the voice of the seven thunders which John was instructed not to reveal in Rev. 10:4. We are to learn here how God breaks His word in order to save mankind. This is similar to what was done in the crucifixion of Christ 2,000 years ago. That was the form it took back then. It was recorded in Deut. 32:36, concerning the present time,
36 For YHWH shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
Notice the part where it states God will, “…repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone…” This is spoken of further in connection with Dan. 12:6&7, which also links to the fifth seal and Rev. 10:7, quoted above. The act of God breaking his word to save mankind is a little understood reality even among those of theological learning. But without it mankind could not be saved. This was what the apostle Paul alluded to in Heb. 2. Note verses 2&3,
2 For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;
3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so greater salvation; which at first began to be spoken by the lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.]
In Mt.24, Christ spoke of the great tribulation that would come upon the world immediately before his return in glory. For those with eyes to see, the pieces are already in place indicating where we are now with regard to this. He stated in verse 22,
22 And except those days be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the
elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
At a critical moment in the history of the world, God acts to save mankind through a group of people referred to here as the elect. They are chosen of God to perform a special task for the benefit of humanity. This causes the days of the great tribulation to be shortened, without which no one would be saved.
It is important to try to balance all the pieces of the puzzle in the mind simultaneously in order to see the connections. We are attempting to see the whole, which is greater than the sum of the parts. It includes the mix of the heavenly as well as the earthly, seen from the perspective of what is to come not from what we now see. It takes some getting use to, but as we become more familiar with this information it allows a certain consciousness to emerge in the mind. Being converted to God means seeing things as God sees them. This is the meaning of Truth and the essence of salvation. Through the understanding derived from these matters our centre of Being shifts from the temporal to the eternal, from effects to cause. We are then better positioned within ourselves to judge the righteousness of God with regard to his ideal of life. While on earth 2,000 years ago, it was from this position Christ spoke. By the Spirit animating his Being and the understanding of mind he was possessed of he was centered in the eternal. His purpose was to lift the spirits and understanding of men that they too would become similarly positioned themselves. The spirit and understanding we are possessed of is revealing of where we are in our grasp of the nature and meaning of Life. This is of importance. It allows us to appreciate the difference between the real and the unreal, and to see the meaning of immortality and things everlasting. How we understand the nature of freedom is inexplicably tied to it. It was necessary for John to be taken to heaven in order to see these matters. While on earth, the prophets were shown them in visions. Through their records, we are made aware of dimensions of existence and realities beyond what is thought of among men. We only see as far as our thoughts allow us to see. This is contingent on the spirit or life energy animating our Being. If all we are is of sensory perception relating solely to matters of the physical then we are truly imprisoned.
Let us rewind back to the lamb as he continues to open the seals. We left off at the end of the sixth seal, where we briefly digressed to address the question, “…who shall be able to stand?” in light of Rev. 7. We pick up the narrative at the opening of the seventh seal beginning in chapter 8,
And when he had opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven, for about the space of half an hour.
2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and to him was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of saints upon the golden altar which was before God.
4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of saints, ascended up before God out of the angels hand.
5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there was voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
The matter of the seven angels, with the seven trumpets, under the seventh seal reaches all the way to Rev. 11:15. There the seventh angel sounds taking us to the end of that chapter. There is a break from Rev. 10-11:1-13, where we are shown the angel who comes to earth with the little book open we discussed earlier. This is inserted between the end of the sixth trumpet and the beginning of the seventh. There is a reason for this. It corresponds with Rev. 7, dealing with the sealing of the 144,000 and the great multitude, which was inserted between the end of the sixth seal and the opening of the seventh. I have already indicated and will show further that these two events are connected. As we continue with what is shown under the seventh seal, you will have heard of the seven last plagues. These are brought to view in Rev. 15&16. They are to be poured upon the world, described as Babylon in Rev. 17&18, for the evil works it has become corrupted by. It might be useful to think of these as one would the plagues that were poured upon Egypt in the days of Moses. The difference being, these are of greater magnitude since they involve the world. Like the seven last plagues, the seven Trumpets spoken of here also bring plagues. These are deemed the seven first plagues, since they occur before the seven last plagues and are more targeted than the latter. So, there are two sets of plagues to be poured upon the world for its iniquities. Which incidentally, are not arbitrary acts of God? Men bring these upon themselves through the willful transgression of the laws of Right, which affects the greater expanse of creation. In Rev. 18:5&6, it is recorded concerning Babylon,
5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God have remembered her iniquities.
6 Reward her even as she have rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled to her double.
Notice the repeated use of the word double. This is used in reference to both sets of plagues. Together they take up much of Rev. 8-18. There are other matters noted in between. These include a mix of plain and symbolic narrative, with their accompanying explanations. We see examples of this in chapters 12; 13; and 17. In Rev. 14, amongst other things we are shown the Messianic kingdom of Mount Zion, which is set up on the Mount of Olives on the east of Jerusalem. This is an event that occurs after the seven first plagues but before the seven last plagues. It is intended as a refuge, a little heaven on earth, amidst the surrounding chaos and destruction at the time of the plagues. It is a place where those sealed of God go when they come out of Babylon. Note Rev. 18:4; Isa. 2:2-4; 25:6-9; Jer. 31:6-12; Zech. 14:4&5, and others.
Let us review then where we have come so far. The apostle John while imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos receives a visit from an angel sent to him by Christ. This happened some time after Christ had ascended to heaven. The angel instructs John to write about the event and also gives him additional information to send to the churches. He is subsequently invited up to heaven where he sees a figure sat on a throne, surrounded by 24 elders, and four beasts. Surrounding them, were many angels. The court of heaven is shown in session and John was the invited representative from among men. In due course we are also shown the focus of this heavenly court. In the right hand of the one sat on the throne there is a book sealed with seven seals. Our attention is then drawn to a strong angel who proclaims with a loud voice, who is worthy to take the book and to loose the seals off it. After a search of heaven, earth and under the earth no one was found. A figure spoken of as, the lion of the tribe of Juda, is subsequently brought to view. He is also shown as a lamb, having seven horns and seven eyes. He comes and takes the book out of the right hand of the one sat on the throne. After receiving harmonious praise and acknowledgement of all who were present he proceeds to open the seals. Under the first four seals we are shown a rider on horses of different colours beginning with white and followed by red, black and pale. We are also given some additional information not clearly understood. When we arrive at the fifth seal we are shown a group of people killed for their faith and who were petitioning God to avenge their blood. They were made to rest for a little season. At the opening of the sixth seal cataclysmic events take place as heaven bursts in on the earth. In the face of all this the question is asked who shall be able to stand. We are shown two groups of people, who were about to be sealed. This takes us on to the seventh seal which introduces the first seven plagues. To be followed by the seven last plagues. Throughout the book of Revelation there is a dual theme of pending destruction and salvation. Ultimately, the former gives way to the latter. We pick up the remaining chapters in Chapter 7, of this book.
This brief introduction to the subject of God’s Judgment is intended as a basic foundation for the body of this book. My concern has been to provide a general picture from which to draw upon rather than to focus on mass of detail. Having a sense of the context makes it easier to see the meaning of the details. This schema of things reflects the ordering of the scriptures. The book of Revelation was intended to provide an overview of the details contained in the prophetic scriptures. It organizes this mass of detail in a form that makes it easier to grasp. We are dealing with matters of God and Truth. God is all-seeing, and all-knowing. The reality of this characterizes the things that come of God. The book sealed with seven seals contains the unspoken thoughts of God, who is shown sat on the throne. Understanding its contents is also an exercise in what it means to be all-seeing, and all-knowing. You will recall the lamb that prevailed to open the book and to loose the seals. In Rev. 5:6, it was shown he had seven horns and seven eyes. There is meaning to this. Having seven eyes indicates completeness of vision. As humans, when we look in front of us we do not see behind, above, below or to the sides at the same time. Neither are we able to see in time. We are limited by reason of our having this embodiment. But the ability of “seeing” is not itself bound by such limitations. Seeing from the whole is not the same as seeing from the parts. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As we are expanded in consciousness beyond the confines of form and embodiment we are made to perceive things not otherwise possible. Through inspiration, we can become positioned in this state ourselves. Achieving this is the underlying reason for our having to exercise faith. Faith in God opens up the possibility for us to extend beyond the “self” of our present fallen humanity and consciousness. From this first step we are progressively imbued with truth and the spirit of God expanding our horizon of knowledge and understanding beyond sensory perception. Ultimately we become centered in our Being beyond the physical world of form and matter. It would then be said we have grown up to God, restoring us back to where we were before the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
In the beginning of this Chapter I noted how at our Mt. Carmel community we believed in the prophetic scriptures. What they contained helped us discern the meanings of events occurring in the world around us beyond the events themselves. This was as it should be for any one truly concerned about God, Truth and salvation. Knowing the meaning of things is all important when it comes to knowing the Truth. Without knowing the truth we have no real guidance in matters of Right. To arrive at this was the sole purpose for the existence of the Mt. Carmel community. How can this be considered a crime? At our trial, in the months following the events of Waco, the Judge by slight of hand convicted us of manslaughter. This was after the jury acquitted us of the false charge of conspiracy to murder federal agents that the government brought against us. It was supposed to be a trial by jury, not a decision of a political appointee. The charges brought against us were in relation to the four agents who were killed as we acted in defense of ourselves under attack. This verdict had nothing to do with anything we were doing to cause them to attack us the way they did in the first place. What we stood in defense of was our faith and our right to practice our beliefs in peace. Has the practice of ones faith now become a matter for the government to decide? Does the government determine what we are to believe in matters of faith? Those who attacked us showed utter contempt for our rights of religious freedom. We were attacked and criminalized for dissenting from officially held views of “acceptable” faith and religious practice. The charges brought against us, were simply an attempt to conceal this gross infringement of our religious freedom. Here the government further abused its powers by using the judicial system to shift blame in an attempt to make it appear we were the ones at fault. What happened with us at Waco was not an aberration. This outrageous state of affairs existed before the events which occurred in 1993. It merely took those events to bring them out in the open. Proportionate to the enormous power the government wields to perform its functions is also the ability to use this power to conceal its crimes.
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