Friday, July 21, 2023

Ever With The Lord

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Ever With The Lord"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Jesus reveals Himself in all His glory to John in Chapter 1. The letters in chapters 2 and 3 are specific to each of those churches, and bleed into the future as we see the state of the Church revealed in each era of The Church Age. Laid out for the reader is discovery on every page. And each page gives us references to the past from the Torah and the Gospels. Suddenly, movies like “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea,” and “Fantastic Voyage” pale in comparison to God’s Masterful Works. Mankind’s highest levels of thought and imagination become a baseline for God’s will for Creation and His plan of salvation.

Chapter 4 finds John scooped up into heaven, and he immediately found himself in the spirit, and in God’s throne room. From here on, the chronology continues into “the things which shall be.” John has been tasked with writing of these things, these fantastic things before him. He begins to write of this out-of-this-world experience by using the limitations of his Earthly language skills. The song, “I CAN ONLY IMAGINE” comes to mind right away.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17, the Apostle Paul wrote prophetically of the Rapture of the Church, and from here on, the Church (Ecclesia in the Greek) is not mentioned in the Revelation text again until chapter 19 and Christ’s return to earth to begin His thousand-year Millennial Reign.

Once the Rapture of the Church takes place, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says, "…and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” The Rapture will have taken us out of the world, escaping the wrath to come during the Great Tribulation Period. (1 Thessalonians 5:9 – “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”

But before the Millennial Reign begins, John is to write what rejecting Christ will mean to any and all. The world will fall into chaos like never before seen. Hurtful treachery will explode upon the Earth because the Holy Spirit of God is removed. The Holy Spirit resides in the hearts of Believers. Once they are gone from the earth, so also is He.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8.

Sunday Morning Audio Sermon
Revelation 4:1-11 - "Ever With The Lord"


As we continue our study in the book of Revelation, this morning we will look at the second great vision given to John by the Lord, Jesus Christ, it is a vision of heaven. Chapter 4 begins with the door of Heaven opening and John being raptured from the Isle of Patmos to the throne of God in Heaven.

The Lord has prophetic plans related to the return of our Lord, and these plans will be carried out just as He said they would, according to His timetable.   We are still living in the church age.  The church age began at Pentecost and will end when the church is raptured out of the world to be with the Lord.   As we continue our study in Revelation 4, John is called up into heaven, a type of the rapture.  

One of the important events in God's timetable is spoken about in Romans 11:25. The importance is two-fold.  First, the apostle Paul is speaking in Rome to both Jew and Gentile believers.  He tells them that should not be ignorant of this mystery.  What mystery? The mystery of the gospel of salvation.  God's promise that all Israel will be saved will only be fulfilled when the fullness of the Gentiles is complete.   Israel’s hardening will continue until the divinely set number of Gentiles are saved. When that happens, God will deliver the nation of Israel. The fullness of the Gentiles is directly connected with the salvation of Israel in God's timetable of events. Second, when that last Gentile is saved, the church will be raptured from this earth to be with the Lord, forever. 

Also, the rapture of the church is not the second coming of Christ. They are two different prophetic events.  In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Paul writes, "
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

In verse 1, John writes, "After this..." After what? After all that was revealed concerning the church age in the previous two chapters.  John is now called up to heaven, as an eyewitness, for the purpose of revelation.  John is taken up to see the events that will take place next, in God's timetable of events.   John has been translated in both space and time - in space to heaven, and in time to the future, and therefore was able to see and hear the amazing events of the future as an actual eyewitness, just as we shall eventually see and hear them ourselves when we, like John, are caught up into heaven to be with the Lord (1Thessalonians 4:16-17).

In the Old Testament, Enoch was caught up to Heaven before the judgment of flood poured over the earth.  John is caught up to Heaven before receiving the vision of the flood of judgment that is yet to come upon the earth.  These are types of the rapture of the church.    In the previous chapter, Jesus words to the church of Philadelphia were, "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth" (Revelation 3:10). So too, will all believers be caught up to Heaven before the judgment is actually poured out upon the earth.  The church will not pass through the Tribulation but is to be removed before God's wrath is poured out.   The Lord has promised that He would keep His church from that hour.

It's important to note that the church is not mentioned again until ⁠Revelation 19:7-9⁠ when it is portrayed as the “bride of Christ” in Heaven with Jesus celebrating the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” At ⁠Revelation 19:11⁠ the door of Heaven opens again, and Jesus emerges riding a white horse on His way to earth, followed by His Church (⁠Revelation 19:14⁠).

After experiencing Christ ministering to His church, writing down His words for the messenger of each of these seven churches, John is called up by Christ, and He writes, I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven.  At this point, the door on earth was closed to Christ, the fullness of the Gentiles is complete, and the door in heaven is open to John, and to all believers.  

John is immediately in the spirit and the first thing he describes is the divine throne room of heaven. John's focus is on the throne and the one who sits on the throne, and on the Lamb of God. As the chapter begins, we are drawn into John's vision, and we become face-to-face with the ineffable majesty Himself.

Heaven is the abode of God.  It is the place where Jesus ascended into after His resurrection from the dead (Acts 1:10-11, 3:21, 7:55-56; Romans 10:6; Colossians 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).  It is also the place where the Lord has been preparing a place for all of us (John 14). 

John sees God sitting on the throne.  In verse 3, "He that sat (on the throne) was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone."  God is not described by human features, but by His transcendent brightness.  The jasper is a transparent stone.  It is a precious stone.  It is crystal clear.  Transparent and yet reflective.  It is perfect without blemish, brilliant.   We can get even a further definition of what the jasper stone is from the end of the book of Revelation, chapter 21:10-11, " And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal."  

John sees God on His throne, He is a clear and brilliant, glorious, splendorous, and magnificent.  

It is noteworthy that the jasper and the sardius were the first and the last stones on the breastplate of the high priest (Ezekiel 28).  They represent the first and the last tribes of Israel; namely Reuben, the firstborn represented by the jasper; and Benjamin, the last born, represented by the sardius.  God is in a covenant relationship with Israel.  Even though judgment is coming, God has not forgotten His promise.  He is faithful and true, and every word of His promise will be fulfilled.  Israel will be saved.  He will fulfill His covenant with them. 

Another interesting note:  Reuben, represented by the jasper, means in Hebrew "behold a son."  Benjamin, represented by the sardius, in Hebrew means "son of my right hand."

Other Old Testament prophets in their visions saw the throne of God and described it for us.  See Isaiah 6:1; 1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 47:8

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