Sun, May 07, 2000

Rest or Distress?: Revelation 6:9-17

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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REST OR DISTRESS?

REVELATION 6:9-17

Once when Calvin Coolidge was Vice President and presiding over the Senate, an altercation arose between two Senators. Tempers flared, and one Senator told the other to go straight to Hell. The offended Senator stormed from his seat, marched down the aisle and stood before Mr. Coolidge, who was silently leafing through a book.

"Mr. [Vice] President," he said, "did you hear what he said to me?"

Coolidge looked up from his book and calmly said, "You know, I have been looking through the rule book. You don’t have to go."

- Lester Buford

In our study this morning that is what we are going to see, two groups of people. One group is going to be put to death for their faith in Christ, and the other group will be hiding from God and wanting to die, as they refuse to turn to Christ. One group is destined for heaven, and the other group is destined for Hell. And each individual has the choice of where he will spend eternity, depending on what He does with Christ. And keep in mind that all these things are taking place during the tribulation period as Jesus Christ opens the fifth and sixth seals of judgment that is coming upon a Christ rejecting world.

It is as we read in Zephaniah chapter 1, beginning in verse 14. It says "The great day of the LORD is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble anddistress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day ofclouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities andagainst the high towers. I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men,because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, andtheir flesh like refuse. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in theday of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy,for He will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land." Zephaniah 1:14-18.

Keep in mind that these things have not taken place yet, but it is coming upon the earth-dwellers, those who have rejected Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. But Paul tells us that those that do believe in Him, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." Romans 5:9. With that all in mind, let’s see what the Lord has for us this morning in Revelation chapter 6, as we focus in on verses 9-17.

REVELATION 6

THE FIFTH SEAL - SOULS OF SAINTS UNDER THE ALTAR - MARTYRS!

VERSES 9-11

As we have seen, things are deteriorating during the tribulation period. Those first 3½ years of pseudo-peace have turned into violent wars with many losing their lives. On the heels of those wars we see famine, with many people starving to death. With all the death we see pestilence, disease take its toll and destroy’s many lives. The animals are also affected and they start to kill people just to survive. As we said last week, in just these 3 seals being opened, anywhere from 1.5 to 2.25 billion people will die!

And out of all this turmoil, who does the world blame? Christians, those who have come to Christ during the tribulation period. You see, as the Lord opens the fifth seal we see the result of the Antichrist’s fury, as it is poured out upon those who have come to Christ and have rejected the Antichrist. And these saints who are a nuisance to the world are seen by God as a beautiful sacrifice, as the blood of Christ covers them as they are waiting under the altar for God to avenge their blood.

Now this may seem like this judgment is coming against God’s people, but it isn’t. You see, as this seal is opened and Christians are martyred for their faith, those that are perpetrating these crimes against God’s people are storing up upon themselves the vengeance of God. It is as Psalm 9:12 says, "When He avenges blood, He remembers them; he does not forget the cryof the humble."

Also, this is not speaking of the church, for the church was raptured or caught up to be with the Lord at the close of the church age, and we saw that as John was caught up into heaven in Revelation chapter 4. These saints are those who were martyred for their faith during the tribulation period. In fact, Revelation 7:14-15 tells us very clearly who these saints are and where they came from. We don’t have to guess, we don’t have to speculate, for we read"...‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes andmade them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God,and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwellamong them."

So these saints come out of the tribulation period. They refuse to bow down and worship the Antichrist. They refuse to take the mark of the beast. And they will be hunted down and put to death for their faith. And their cry is that their blood should be avenged for by the holy and true Judge! And their question is "How long? How long are they going to have to wait until those who have done these things to them will be judged?" And the Lord tells them to hang in there, to be patient, for when the complete number of their fellow servants have been martyred for their faith, then He will act. It is as Jesus said in Luke chapter 18, "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily..." Luke 18:7-8a.

Notice also the two reasons why they are being persecuted. It is for the Word of God and their testimony of God which they held. They were a bright light shining in a dark world and the darkness did not like the light and tried to put it out because it exposed their evil. And the reality is , that is the way it has been since the church started. It has been estimated that since 1900 over 26 million Christians have been martyred for their faith in Christ, and it is only going to get worse!

Remember the letter Jesus wrote to the church in Philadelphia in Revelation chapter 3, He praised them for keeping His Word and their faith or their testimony of God. Folks, that never changes! And those that hold onto these things will manifest the things of God in their lives and many times they will be persecuted, and even put to death for their faith. Now our responsibility is not to destroy those who come against us but to lay our lives down before them. To show them the love of Christ. Many Roman guards and executioners came to the faith after seeing Christians being put to death and praying for those who were doing these things to them. Today we want to get our AK-47's and blow these evil people away. The reality is we are to love them into the kingdom of God just as God has loved us!

Also, we see in the church today the Word of God being placed behind all kinds of entertainment, psycho-babble, watered down sermons, and all this garbage has caused many people not to know God, they don’t know how to live, their light is dim, and their testimony is weak. Difficult times come and they are ready to run, instead of drawing closer to God. I pray that you have a love for God’s Word and a desire to draw close to Him through it. If you do your light will shine brightly and your testimony will be strong!

Now for those who come to Christ during the tribulation period, there will be intense persecution against them for the last 3½ years of the 7 year tribulation period. In Daniel chapter 7, Daniel is given a vision of 4 beasts which represent 4 world kingdoms; the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman. And beginning in verse 15 of Daniel chapter 7 we read "I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my headtroubled me. I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this.So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: ‘Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’ Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows. I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom." Daniel 7:15-22.

Out of the revived Roman empire, which is rising up today, comes this fourth beast who will come against the saints, and he continues on speaking of this beast, the Antichrist in verse 23,"Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall bedifferent from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces. The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’ This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart." Daniel 7:23-28.

For 3½ years this man will come against the people of God, and he will speak pompous words against the true and living God. And then the Lord will step in and destroy Him and His wrath will be poured out upon those who have come against His people.

In the New Testament we see this spoken of in Revelation chapter 13, beginning in verse 1. Where we read "Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads ablasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like thefeet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, histhrone, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’ And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." Revelation 13:1-10.

This beast, the Antichrist, comes against the saints to "overcome" them! This again is not speaking of the church, for in Matthew 16:18 Jesus said that "...gates of Hades shall notprevail [overcome] against..." His church.

Now some may feel they are going to wait till these things take place before coming to Christ. I will tell you this, if you can’t live for Him now, what makes you think you will die for Him then! It won’t happen, it is just that simple!

THE SIXTH SEAL - CATACLYSMIC DISTURBANCES - THE END!

VERSES 12-14

With the opening of the first seal we saw the beginning of the first 3½ years of the tribulation period. Then, starting with the second seal on we have the beginning of the last 3½ years of the tribulation period known as the Great Tribulation, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, the Beginning of Sorrows.

I feel that this sixth seal brings us to the close of the tribulation period. In it we see earthquakes, the sun becoming black, the moon like blood, stars falling from heaven, the sky shaken, the mountains and islands moved from their place. There is so much cataclysmic disturbances that this can’t be in the first 3½ years of the tribulation period, and it does seem to fit right at the end of the Great Tribulation. In the book of Joel, in the Old Testament, we see cataclysmic events occurring that parallel very closely to what John tells us here in Revelation.

In Joel chapter 2 we read, "The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?...And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great andawesome day of the LORD." Joel 2:10-11, 30-31.

Never in history has the whole earth shook. Even today, the farthest tremors that have been felt from an earthquake have only been some 200 miles from the epicenter! But the one that is coming will shake the very foundations of the earth, moving every mountain and island! In Isaiah 24:17-23 we read of this time that is coming as Isaiah tells us, "Fear and the pit and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth. And it shall be that he who flees from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit, and he who comes up from the midst of the pit shall be caught in the snare; for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth are shaken. The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut; its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again. It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed; for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously."

Also, the sun becomes black and the moon like blood, and this may be the result of volcanic activity, which is a strong probability after this violent earthquake. You may remember when Mt. St. Helens erupted in Washington or Mt. Pinataubo in the Philippians, leaving the sky’s as dark as night during the day time. People were driving around at noon time with their car headlights on because the volcanic ash blocked out the sun.

The stars falling from heaven may be speaking of meteors or asteroids that are pelting the earth. We have seen the effects of these projectiles as just a few years ago they pelted Jupiter, and it has caused many to search the heavens looking for these objects to warn us of the coming danger. An object just 10 miles wide impacting the earth could alter the rotation of the earth, besides the other devastating effects of this object hitting the earth.

Also we see the sky split apart or roll up like a scroll. I can’t tell you fully what this means but I will say this. According to those involved with quantum physics and the findings of the Hubble telescope, they show us that the universe is expanding and is curved or scroll-like in shape! Can God roll up the sky? If He wants to!

With the close of this seal we are at the end of the tribulation period. We are told of the story and in chapter 7 some of the details of the story are added. That is how Genesis 1 starts out, you have the creation story and then in chapter 2 some of the details are filled in.

This type of writing produces the highest interest level for the reader. When you read a newspaper article that is how it is written. For example, "This Sunday is the Chicago Marathon in which runners from around the country will run 26.2 miles." Then you would add the details. You might want to feature something on the runners, the oldest, the youngest, the fastest, and-so-on.

That is the way we see Revelation unfolding for us. Chapter 7 gives us some of the details, then in chapter 8 we pick up the story again only this time we pick up somewhere after the midpoint of the tribulation period. Hopefully with that concept, that approach to this book, it will help you to understand it more.

Now you would think that God’s judgment being poured out in these cataclysmic events would cause the rich and the poor of this world to fall on their knees and repent of their sins. That they would come to Jesus, but they don’t! Listen to what takes place in the midst of these judgments beginning in verse 15 of Revelation chapter 6.

VERSES 15-17

They recognize God’s judgment and yet they refuse to surrender to Him. What they end up doing is trying to hide themselves in death. H. B. Swete put it this way when he said, "What sinners dread most is not death, but the revealed presence of God." How hard, how stubborn, how rebellious is the heart of man to the point that he refuses to humble himself before God! And if you really think about it, you can’t hide from God. He knows what you are doing and where you are at.

In Nahum 1:3-6 we read "The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and dries up all therivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, and the flower of Lebanon wilts. The mountains quakebefore Him, the hills melt, and the earth heaves at His presence, yes, the world and all whodwell in it. Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness ofHis anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him."

And in Isaiah chapter 34, God warns us of this time when He says in verse 1, "Come near, you nations, to hear; and heed, you people! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world and all things that come forth from it. For the indignation of the LORD is against allnations, and His fury against all their armies; he has utterly destroyed them, he has giventhem over to the slaughter. Also their slain shall be thrown out; their stench shall rise fromtheir corpses, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. All the host of heavenshall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; all their host shall falldown as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree." Isaiah 34:1-4.

People are fully aware of where this judgment is coming from and yet they still refuse to repent and get right with God. They have refused the Rock of Ages and are crying out for the rocks of this earth to fall upon them. What a sad picture of rebellious man this is.

Again, in Isaiah chapter 13, we read of this day beginning in verse 6. It says "Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will be limp, every man's heart will melt, And they will be afraid. Pangs andsorrows will take hold of them; they will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; they will beamazed at one another; their faces will be like flames. Behold, the day of the LORD comes,cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy itssinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; thesun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. I willpunish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance ofthe proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a mortal more rarethan fine gold, a man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake theheavens, and the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts and in the day of His fierce anger." Isaiah 13:6-13.

We have read a lot this morning of the judgment of God, but don’t forget that God is standing with His arms of forgiveness open wide for all who will come to Him. Joel, in speaking of this day of the Lord said these words of encouragement, "And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls."Joel 2:32.

You see, without Christ it is a hopeless situation. You can’t stand before a righteous God in your own filthy righteousness. John has told us "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?The answer is simple, we can if we are in Christ! As Paul said back in I Thessalonians 5:9-11, "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvationthrough our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we shouldlive together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as youalso are doing."

As we opened up our study this morning we looked at the story of Calvin Coolidge and his response to a man who was told by another to go straight to hell! Coolidge’s response was simple, "You don’t have to go!" That is the reality of the situation we are in, we don’t have to go if we come to Christ!

Make no mistake about it, these things will come to pass just as the Lord has said. As I close this morning listen to these words from Paul in Hebrews chapter 12, beginning in verse 25. We read"See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more,indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, thatthe things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving akingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:25-29.

God is going to shake this earth, the question is, "Are your feet planted upon the solid Rock, Jesus Christ?" If not, you will be shaken and consumed in the fire of His judgment. If you are in Christ you are on solid ground and God’s fire of judgment will not consume you for your sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ. The choice is yours on where you will stand, who you will put your faith in! May it be the Lord Jesus Christ, for all other foundations will crumble away!

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