Through the prophet Isaiah God said, My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts (Is 55:9) meaning in part He sees all of life from a perspective far above ours. Every time we read the Bible we find ourselves challenged to think bigger than we normally do. And nowhere in the Bible is our perspective forced to rise more than in the Book of Revelation. Here we are lifted up into the heavenly realm and shown Gods perspective on the world even to the point of showing us the spiritual forces at work behind it. The view is humbling. We can only stand amazed because the heart of God is certainly different from ours.
In todays lesson we are carried into heaven where we are allowed to watch the moment when God as Judge commands this era of human history to come to an end . . . that all human government cease . . and that the very elements of the universe be destroyed. We get to watch the beginning of the end. And in the process well discover why God patiently waited so many centuries before He decided to bring this final verdict.
A. Daniels Prophecy (Da 7:4-14)
In the year 553 B.C., as a captive in the Babylonian empire, Daniel saw this vision. (v 2 four winds: winds of war; great sea: people of the world) (vs 3-7 four great beasts: Gentile kingdoms)
1) Lion with wings: Babylon (604-538 B.C.)
- Strength and speed
2) Bear raised on one side: Medo/Persia 550-330 B.C.)
- Fierce in battle
- Two portions of empire unequal in strength
- Conquered three great kingdoms: Lydia, Babylonia, Bactria
3) Leopard with four wings and four heads: Greece
- Alexander the Great (334-323 B.C.)
- His empire was divided among four generals (Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Macedonia)
4) Monster with iron teeth and ten horns: Antichrists final kingdom
- It will destroy or dominate the kingdoms of the earth.
- The central empire is composed of ten nations.
- The antichrist personally governs these and seven others form an alliance with him (vs 8, 24, 25)
- He will blaspheme God by declaring himself divine (v 8, 20)
When this blasphemy takes place God will pronounce judgment in heaven (Mt 24:15 abomination of desolation). Dominion will be taken away from humans and given to One like a Son of Man (v 13, 14)
B. Johns Heavenly Throne Room (Rev 4:1-11)
John sees the same event as Daniel only he gives us much more detail of the vision before him.
(v 1) After these things: at the conclusion of history as we know it.
(v 2) In the Spirit: the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit overwhelmed him to the point that his ordinary consciousness gave way until he could hear and see spiritual voices and visions.
(v 2) One sitting on the throne: God the Father, the Ancient of Days
(v 3) Jasper: crystal clear like glass (Rev 21:11); sardius: blood red; emerald: soft green
(v 4) Twenty-four elders: twelve representatives of the Old Covenant and twelve of the New (Rev 21:12-14) (white robes: sins forgiven; crowns: sharing governing authority)
(v 5) Lightening and thunder: the coming storm of Gods judgment
(v 5) Seven lamps of fire: God will grant spiritual revelation to those who seek Him
(v 6) Sea of glass: heavenly architecture
(v 6) Four living creatures: angelic beings who glorify God by embodying the great truths of the gospel of Christ (lion: ruler, king of kings; calf: sacrifice, cross; man: human, son of man; eagle: divine, son of God)
C. Perspective on Gods Patience
From our human perspective we often wonder why is God waiting so long to command the return of Jesus Christ? We see evil, suffering and death all around us and we wish Jesus would come again and rescue us from all this. But as these visions carry us to the very moment when that decision is made we discover that it is Gods love that is causing Him to delay.
1. God loves people (Ge 1:27, 28)
- He made us for fellowship (v 27)
- He told us to be fruitful and multiply (v 28)
- John 3:16 - He paid the price to make it possible for those who repent to come back to Him
2. God knows who will be saved and Hes waiting for every one (2Pe 3:1-13)
- He endures the horrors of human sin and suffering to gain the joy of those who will be His children
- He knows who is not saved yet: until the fullness of the Gentiles has come (Ro 11:25); then all Israel will be saved (Ro 11:26); those whom He foreknew
3. Evil will grow to a point where God must bring this era to an end
- Examples: Noahs time (Ge 6:5-7, 11-13); Sodom and Gomorrah (Ge 18:20, 21, 25); some cultures become a vortex for souls: everyone is dying and going to hell, none are being saved
4. Only God the Father knows this moment (Mt 24:36)
- Yet we are told to watch the signs
be on the alert (24:42)
ready for His coming (24:44)
- Everything will happen quickly once it starts (Mt 24:34; Mk 13:28-33)
1. The day will come when your resurrected feet will stand (or dance) on that sea of glass before the throne of God. Pick a worship song that you would like to sing to Him when you get there. Why did you pick that song?
2. What part of Johns description of heaven touches your heart the most deeply? Why?