In today’s episode, we will embark upon a transformative moment where past and present converge upon the threshold of the future. Seven letters, heralds of truth and admonition, have been delivered. Now, prepare to stand at the edge of prophecy as it begins to unravel before us. We will peer into John’s vision standing before the throne of God, as the fabric of time ripples and we witness the unveiling of the seven seals.

References to Bible Verses:

Matthew 24:3; Revelation 1:19; Revelation 4:1-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Matthew 28:3; 1 Chronicles 24; Ephesians 5:26; 2 Corinthians 3:18; James 1:23; Isaiah 6:1-3; Ezekiel 1:4-14; Ezekiel 10:20-22;  Ezekiel 28:14; Isaiah 6:2-7; Acts 1:10-11; Matthew 10:39; Daniel 9:20-23; Daniel 12:4; Daniel 9:25-26; John 1:27; Genesis 49:9-10; Isaiah 31:4; Hosea 11:10; Isaiah 11:10; Revelation 22:16; Psalm 141:2; Revelation 6:1-17; Daniel 7:21; Genesis 10:8-14; Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:9-12; Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 34:4; Romans 1:18-22; Hosea 13:15; Ezekiel 9:4; John 6:27; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13; Jeremiah 8:16; Daniel 11:37; Matthew 19:27-28; Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 3:26-29; Galatians 6:15-16; Revelation 7:1-17; Matthew 24:14; John 12:12-16; Revelation 8:1-5

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Transcript

Jason: Welcome to the My Ministry Mission Podcast. We are your hosts, Jason and Laura.

"As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. Tell us, they said, when will this happen? What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3).

It's a question we still have 2, 000 years later. And in today's episode, we will embark upon a transformative moment. Where past and present converge upon the threshold of the future. Seven letters, heralds of truth and admonition have been delivered. Now prepare to stand at the edge of prophecy as it begins to unravel before us. We will peer into John's vision, standing before the throne of God as the fabric of time ripples, and we witness the unveiling of the seven seals.

We're going to step into that hairy territory of eschatology for a moment because the events described between Revelation chapter 4 and 19, from our perspective, could be viewed as having occurred or will occur or some combination of the two, depending on which of the views you subscribe to. So first, let's summarize the Revelation interpretations.

The first one I'm going to touch on is idealist. Those who fall in the idealist category believe that the events in Revelation are not literal, not historic, not futuristic events, but rather a representation of the battle between good and evil. Now, to these folks, these events are themes throughout the church history. ThIs view differs from the other ones because it's not really identifying any particular event, institution, or people with their visions.

Laura: Historicists, on the other hand, believe that Revelation is a running account of Church history, and all of this is predetermined from the time of John until the return of Christ. They attribute the numerous symbols of Revelation to various historic movements and events in the Christian Church. For example, the seven seals and the four horsemen represent the decline of the Roman Empire.

Jason: Right, now we move on to the Preterist view. Preterism comes from the Latin word preteritio, meaning a fact or a condition of being in the past. And I'm not sure I said that word right. But in this view, most or all of the events in Revelation occurred in 70 AD with the fall of Jerusalem. This is subdivided into full Preterist and partial Preterist. Where the full Preterists think the prophecy was completely fulfilled, whereas partial Preterists believe it was all fulfilled, except for Second Coming, Final Judgment, General Resurrection, and New Heavens/New Earth.

Laura: Finally, the Futurists believe that everything from Revelation chapter 4 forward will occur in the future. Immediately prior to Christ's second coming and the end of time. And there are also different millennial views, which outline how the millennium, or the 1, 000 year reign of Christ, is interpreted from Revelation chapter 20.

Jason: Yep, they can't make it easy for us. So we'll start with Amillennialist. They believe that we are presently living in the Millennial Kingdom. And they interpret the thousand years figuratively, and they believe that Christ will return after the Millennium. Now they believe that the Church will experience both victory and suffering until the Second Coming of Christ. And amillennialist can potentially fall into any one of the four revelation interpretations we just went through a moment ago, but I believe they primarily camp under preterist or idealist views.

Laura: Right. And those who subscribe to the postmillennialist views also believe that Christ will return after the millennium. However, they believe that there is a gradual end to much of the Church's suffering before Christ returns. So this camp is similar to the amillennialists in many regards. In fact, until the 20th century, postmillennialists were considered amillennialists. Most postmillennialists, though, fall under preterist views. But again, they could also be historicists or idealists, but not futurists, because they tend to believe that the future is better.

Jason: Finally, we have premillennialists, which actually break down into two systems, historic and dispensational premillennialism. Both systems view Revelation 20 verses 1 through 6 as literally a thousand years and will happened after Christ's return. Now, premillennialists tend to be primarily futurists, but some mix historicist and futurist views.

Laura: Regardless of your personal beliefs, though, going forward, these are glimpses into future events from the perspective of our noble scribe, John. And I know we said we weren't really going to go over these topics, and we really didn't. I mean, this is just a gross oversimplification of these views.

Jason: It really is. And it feels like a tongue twister to saying those words over and over again

Laura: Tell me about it!

Jason: Not fun. So, so we bring this up because Revelation 4:1 is important and it will frame the understanding of the rest of this book. So why is that? Well, I was going through some research and commentaries and I stumbled on a nugget of information that I probably would not have considered myself. But if you look at Revelation 1:19, it acts as an outline for the book of Revelation. And it reads, "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now, and what will take place later." So our outline basically establishes the following order in which to write things. What is now, and what will take place later.

Seems pretty simple. There's a combination of two words in verse 4:1. Meta and Tauta. Which means "after these things" or "after this," and it's repeated twice in Revelation 4:1. Now, this is meant to be a reminder to keep to that divine outline given in Revelation 1:19. We just finished the seven churches of Asia Minor, which covered the past for you and me, but we studied those churches from the context of the present for John. Now, Revelation 4:1 is now transitioning us into the future, so this is a signal that new visions are coming after what was shown to John in chapters 1 through 3.

Laura: That being said, chapter 4 begins from the perspective of a heavenly vision looking down upon Earth. And from this point forward, Revelation will be concerned primarily with the periods of the Messianic Wars and the Great Tribulation, which is centered on God's judgment of the world, and that judgment comes from God's throne in heaven.

Revelation 4:1 in its entirety reads as follows, "After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." The Voice Like a Trumpet is a reference to 1 Thessalonians 4:16. "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first." And as a bit of a side note, this verse is the most often quoted passage relating to the rapture, which is the moment when all Christians will be called to Christ, that is both living and dead.

Paul is assuring us that Jesus will come in person for the Christians, which will be accompanied by a loud command, which is the voice of an archangel and a trumpet blast. Keep in mind that depending on your views, the rapture could happen before the tribulation, after half of it, or at the end of it, coinciding with the second coming.

And there is a general belief that the rapture and second coming are two separate events. For the rapture, Jesus doesn't set his feet on the earth, but he will for the second coming.

Jason: Yep. And according to David Guzik's commentaries, the word "church" doesn't show up any place in chapters four through 19, describing this period of judgment on earth. And for those who believe in the pre tribulation rapture, which I think falls under the premillennial camp, it's believed that during these events, the church wasn't present on earth, which kind of lends credence to the idea of the rapture.

So then we move on to Revelation 4:2, "At once I was in the spirit and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it." So John, already mentioned he was in the spirit in Revelation 1:10, but I imagine this was a very different experience for him. It's possible that John's spirit went to heaven and his body did not. It's possible John couldn't even tell for certain. But when I contemplate this verse, I'm filled with this sense of peace. Mean, is this how we're going to experience the transition to heaven? Will we immediately be embraced in this presence of the spirit? Kind of hope so.

Laura: Yeah, I mean, everybody talks about the pearly gates with St. Peter and all that, but I think it's more like this, that we're going to be greeted by Jesus himself. That's just my personal belief

Jason: That'd be awesome.

Laura: I know, right?

Jason: Then in Revelation 4:3, John describes that person that's sitting on the throne had the parents of Jasper and Ruby, which is more accurately describing two shining lights, white and red. White communicated the glory of the empty tomb, you can see Matthew 28:3 for that, and red represents the blood or the sacrificial love of His crucifixion.

John goes on to describe a rainbow shown like an emerald encircling the throne, which is a reminder of God's covenant with man in Genesis 9, a sign of grace and the covenant of mercy. And green represents the freshness of Christ's throne of grace. Now, remember in our first episode in the series, we suggested paying attention to the symbolism as well as the emotion that it evoked.

And when I read verses 2 and 3, it evokes this feeling of, of peace, trustworthy power and purity for me. Unfortunately, our limited language doesn't really offer me the right words to describe what I think it would feel like to be in the presence of Christ. But then John goes on to describe what he saw surrounding the throne in Revelation 4:4, "Surrounding the throne were 24 other thrones and seated on them were 24 elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their head."

So here we have some more numerical fun. The number 24 represents 2 times 12, and 12 represents 3 times 4. 3 is greatness, and if you recall, the number 4 represents wholeness. So 3 times 4, (or 12), demonstrates eschatological perfection, the 12 tribes of Israel, or God's people. And 24 represents a plentitude of God's people in the church, 12 tribes and 12 apostles, which represent all the faithful. Now, in 1 Chronicles, 24, the descendants of Aaron, the priests in Israel were divided into 24 sections to determine the order in which they would minister before the Lord.

Laura: And as a side note, I've also heard 12 represents government, 4 represents the earth, 3 resurrection or manifestation, and 2 representing unity. There are so many different ways we could go with this. The 24 elders could be as in 2 times 12, unity in government.

Jason: Yeah, we could probably dive into this more if we wanted to, but we did also warn about not getting lost in the details. There's a balance we need to maintain between, what we're looking in symbolism and, moving on with what trying to figure out.

Laura: Exactly. Yeah, let's get off that rabbit trail.

Jason: Fair enough. All right. Now, as for the white robes. Angels sometimes were presented in white robes or garments as were saints.

Laura: And saints aren't any elite class of people to be revered, people to pray to, or mediators for us. Saints are simply believers in Jesus, living or dead, who have been saved by grace through faith.

Jason: Right. But angels, however, were never crowned believers who were victorious will be crowned crown represents victory power as well as royalty. So who are these 24? Unfortunately, there's no way to know on this side of heaven, but as we move on to Revelation 4:5, we are reminded of the fearful presence of God at Mount Sinai from Exodus chapters 19 and 20, "From the throne came flashes of lightning rumblings and pearls of thunder in front of the throne. Seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God."

So these visions communicate the awe associated with God's throne and the Seven Spirits of God represent the Holy Spirit, which we see in Revelation 1:4, and Isaiah 11:2. Which is also represented in the seven lamps. Now, there's something unique about this reference. Specifically, the fires burning within lamps because the Holy Spirit normally isn't visible. But we saw this before in Acts 2:3, in the tongues of fire with the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. So the first half of Revelation 4:6 reads, "In front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal." Which is reminiscent of the laver in the tabernacle and our "washing the water of the world" from Ephesians 5:26. And this use of crystal glass is kind of interesting. It gives a clear sight of God as seen in 2 Corinthians 3:18 and of ourselves as seen in James 1:23.

Then in the second half of Revelation 4:6 through 4:8. Well, things get a little weird. "In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four creatures had six wings, and it was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night, they never stopped saying, 'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is, and is to come.'"

Oh boy, where to start?

So these creatures have been written about before in Isaiah's commission, Isaiah 6:1-3, as well as Ezekiel's inauguration vision found in Ezekiel 1:4-14. And again in Ezekiel 10:20-22. We understand these creatures as being cherubim. And I've also seen them referred to as seraphim which are celestial beings, or for lack of a better description, angelic beings who serve the will of God. In fact, Satan used to be one of these, according to Ezekiel 28:14. Cherubim were prominent designs of the tabernacle as well, especially in the most holy place.

Laura: And in some of the research I've done, there seems to be a hierarchy of angels. Archangels, cherubim, seraphim, and then principalities and powers. Now, those last two are generally used to refer to fallen angels. That is the ones who followed Lucifer or Satan when he tried to overthrow God. Now, according to Isaiah 6:2-7 seraphim are angels with six wings who sing God's praises without ceasing, and based on the description, seem to be different from these beings described here in Revelation.

Cherubim, on the other hand, are usually associated with holiness and guarding against sin. I mean, God did place two cherubim at the entrance to the Garden of Eden after man was expelled, and two carved cherubim are on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, which is also called the Mercy Seat. And on a side note, on the Day of Atonement, when the blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, The cherubim and God could not see the evidence of man's rebellion within the Ark.

Likewise, when we have been washed with the blood of Jesus, God sees Jesus' blood instead of our sins. Anyway, back to the angels. Archangels are angels of the highest order. Scripture itself only names one, Michael. There is a general belief that Gabriel is another, as is one named Raphael, and I guess we have half the Ninja Turtles, kind of?

Jason: Come to me when you get to Splinter.

Laura: That would be awesome. Anyway, certain denominations believe that there may be up to seven, again, with the number of perfection. My theory, and this is strictly my theory, is that these four beings described here are four archangels, possibly tasked with protecting the four corners of the earth and delivering messages from time to time. Of course, I have nothing really to base my theory on, so take it with a grain of salt.

Jason: And it's funny you mention that because I did find an article on Christianity.com that suggested some scholars refer to Gabriel as a cherub, which would explain why he tells Mary not to fear him in Luke 1:30.

Laura: I mean, I think any 13 to 14 year old girl would be terrified if any kind of being, regardless of what it looked like, showed up in her bedroom.

Jason: You may have a point. Maybe.

The multitude of eyes indicate that these creatures represent an insight and Perception that far surpasses that of any man. Now, I know there are listeners who may prefer the King James version of the Bible but in that version, they are referred to or translated as "beasts" and I, personally feel that's inaccurate because according to Strong's G2226, the word "zōon" could be translated into "living beings" or an "animal brute or beast". And I feel like angels fall within the living beings category and not the beast category. That's just my opinion on it, though.

As for the four faces, going back to Ezekiel 1, we see that each of the cherubim have four faces, but in this vision, John is seeing each one with a different face pointing his direction. Now, there may be significance to these four faces and how they're presented. They could represent the elements, cardinal virtues, faculties and powers of the human soul, the patriarchal church, the great apostles, the order of churchmen, the principal angels, and so on. Commentaries do suggest that these four faces are important because they do represent all of animate creation, or basically the state of all living creatures, or things created by God.

Let's talk about what they are saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty." Now this is also seen in Isaiah 6:3, and the repetition of the word holy three times. Well, remember the number three represents greatness, similar to seven. And in Hebrew, a double repetition of a word has emphasis and a threefold repetition well in this case signifies infinite holiness of God. When you and I consider saying the same thing over and over again, day and night, it seems daunting and tiresome. Yet these creatures have no unrest. And they find contentment in their constant declaration. Now the phrase ends with "who was and is and is to come," which is also seen in Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 1:8. And it refers to God's eternal existence. I've also seen references in Acts 1, specifically Acts 1, 10 through 11, after Jesus ascends into heaven. It reads, "They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside him," there's those white garments again. "Men of Galilee, they said, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way that you have seen him go to heaven." Now it's possible the words in Revelation 1:4, 1:8, and 6:8 are assurances to the people of Christ that he will return one day.

But let's circle back to those 24 elders we mentioned a moment ago. This will take us into Revelation 4 verses 9 through 11, but I want to pick this apart a bit. Revelation 4:9, and the first part of verse 10 reads, "Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to him who sits in the throne and who lives forever and ever. The 24 elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever." So because the cherubim worship God day and night, the elders do as well. And this is interesting because angels were never redeemed by the blood of Christ, yet they worship God day and night. And honestly, we should do the same, keeping God in our heart at all times.

God created us for his pleasure. And that means we weren't created for our own pleasure. Yet, we often succumb to those pleasures of the flesh, but here's the catch. If we seek to please God, He will gift us with blessings and joy. When we please God, we'll get happiness and satisfaction as our reward. In Matthew 10:39, Jesus teaches us this, "Whoever finds their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." Resurrection can only happen once we take up the cross and follow Jesus. It's not enough to be a cross bearer, we have to follow him too.

So the last half of Revelation 10 through verse 11 reads, "They lay their crowns before the throne and say, you are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power for you created all things and by your will, they were created and have their being." These crowns are the Stephanos crowns. And if you recall from episode 41, Stephanos means victory. So these crowns represent victory, not royalty. They are crowns that represent the redemption of God. And these crowns are unanimously laid back at the foot of the heavenly throne because they knew without a doubt that God was worthy of glory and honor. There's no politics in heaven, only perfect harmony. I know that's a lot to take in, but that's Revelation chapter 4 in, well, a nutshell ish.

Laura: Ish, yeah. Now, let me start off by commenting on how overwhelmed John must have been feeling at this point, even though we're just getting started. I mean, he's seeing these angels and twenty four elders worshipping God, hearing all the voices blending together. I know, I'd be overwhelmed just to see and hear that.

Then John sees a scroll in God's right hand. Okay, well, the first half of Revelation 5:1 reads, "Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne." Now, in all likelihood, this is God Himself. Like, God, the creator of the universe, God who parted the Red Sea. Okay, I'll stop now.

The right hand represents authority and power, which basically means that God holds the authority on what is going to happen.

Jason: And something interesting to note here in Revelation 4. John was focused on the throne. However, now John is shifting his focus to the scroll held by the enthroned Lord.

Laura: And this scroll is quite fascinating, actually. First, there was writing on the inside and the outside. And this was highly unusual for several reasons. Well, number one, it would be hard to write on the rough side of the scroll. And reading both sides would be highly inconvenient, since you'd have to keep flipping it back and forth.

Jason: Well, Laura, the end of the world is not convenient.

Laura: I never said it was! I'm just talking about scrolls in general.

Jason: Fair enough. Sorry, go on.

Laura: That's okay, you're fine. Second, there were seven seals, and usually scrolls only had one. And only the person with the authority could open it. How, then, could the scroll have seven? And what was the purpose of that, beyond seven being the number of perfection? I kind of go off on a little rabbit trail here.

If they were all placed on the outside, then they would all need to be opened before the scroll could be read. And there's no point in placing seals on the inside of the scroll as it could damage the writing. I have a theory that there might be several pages rolled up together and each seal opens the next part.

I could be wrong on that though. I did consult a few commentaries and one of those indicates that all seven seals are in fact on the outer edge of the scroll and that the events in chapter six are judgments that precede the full opening of the scroll, which is quite ominous if you ask me. Anyway, moving on to verse 2 John says, "And I saw a strong angel who shouted with a loud voice, who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?"

Okay. Who is this angel? It's never actually stated, but some scholars believe it to be Gabriel, because in the book of Daniel, chapter 9, verses 20 through 23, it reads, "I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the Lord, my God, for Jerusalem, his holy mountain. As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. He explained to me, Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision." Now, after delivering the information to Daniel, Gabriel commands him to seal the Book of Prophecy until the time of the end. That's in Daniel 12:4.

I mean, how cool would it be if Daniel was the one who actually sealed the scroll? or saw it being sealed. Now, based on Daniel chapters 9 through 12, the visions Daniel sees seem to point to the seven year tribulation period. He speaks of 70 weeks, which is the time for God to put an end to sin, atone for wickedness, bring everlasting righteousness, and so on.

And these 70 weeks, which is 70 groups of 7 years, I mean, Bible math, almost as bad as toilet paper math, equal 490 years. What?

Jason: Toilet paper math. I love it.

Laura: I mean, have you looked at the toilet paper packaging? 6 mega rolls equals 24 regular rolls. And if you know, you know. Anyway, Daniel 9 verses 25 and 26 says that the Messiah will be cut off after 7 sevens and 62 sevens. So that's 69 total sevens. Beginning with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. So Daniel's prophecy was that Jesus would die 483 years. That is 69 groups of 7 years. 69 times 7, 483, after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, and this actually has been confirmed by biblical historians. So this understanding is accepted by most Christian scholars, no matter what their eschatological views are. So where's that last week? Where did it go? Grow legs and walk off?

I mean, week number 70, the final group of seven years. Well, this week is generally accepted to be the tribulation. And depending on your eschatological view, has already happened or will happen at some point in the future. Alright, Jason, you're not the only one that goes off on rabbit trails. Alright, let's get back on track.

We might come back to Daniel's prophecies a bit later, but feel free to check them out on your own. In verse 4, the word used for worthy is the Greek word "axios", which signifies something morally and legally entitled. John the Baptist used this word when he said he was unworthy to untie Jesus sandals in John 1:27.

Every being would have to be honest with themselves. Were they morally and or legally entitled to open the scroll? Verse 3 says no. No one in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it. No angel, no human, no demon. Nobody was deemed worthy. This caused John to weep bitterly. In verse 4. My commentary states that John cried because, though he was promised the revelation, he would be denied knowledge of the divine script hidden in the scroll. Another commentary states that perhaps John wept because he thought that with the scroll remaining sealed, sin would never be judged and come to an end.

Now, I don't know John personally, but I tend to lean toward the second reason. I mean, John the apostle sitting there crying because he's not gonna know what the scroll says, doesn't make sense to me. Anyway, in verse 5, one of the 24 elders tells John to stop weeping and says, "look, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David's throne, has won the victory." He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals. All right, whoever this elder is, he or she definitely knows what's up. He refers to this newcomer by a couple of different titles. Lion of the tribe of Judah, and heir to David's throne. These titles, of course, refer to Jesus.

Jason: Yep. More specifically, Genesis 49 verses 9 through 10, Isaiah 31:4 and Hosea 11:10, all reference the Messianic title "Lion of the tribe of Judah" and the title "Root of David" or "heir to David's throne" can be found in Isaiah 11:10 and repeated later in Revelation 22:16.

Laura: So, when John looked at Jesus in verse 6, he saw a lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings, and among the twenty four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.

Wow. There's a lot to unpack here. The lamb that had been slaughtered, but now it was standing refers to Jesus's death and resurrection. But I also tend to believe that there's still evidence of the scourging and crucifixion. The holes in his wrists, feet, and side, the marks on his head from the crown of thorns, the lashes on his back from the whip, all of it. There is a receipt of payment. He paid for and redeemed us from every curse of the law, including the ones first laid down by God in the garden of Eden.

Jason: And it's interesting to me that the elder announces the Lion of Judah, but when John looks, he sees a slaughtered lamb. I mean, I can't help but wonder if there's some significance to that discrepancy.

Laura: I mean, it could be to show the duality of Christ, fully God yet fully man, king of kings yet a willing sacrifice. And with this description of the throne room, or rather simply an area around the throne, I'm trying to visualize where Jesus would be standing. It says he was standing among the 24 elders. And if they're representatives of the church, as one commentary stated, and it makes sense since it was one of the elders who pointed out who He was, He was standing with His bride.

It's between the throne and the four living beings, part that I'm having trouble visualizing. I mean, from the description in Revelation 4, it sounds like the elders are in a circle around the throne. And all the angels are between the elders and the throne, but Jesus is omnipresent, so he could be in all those places at once.

The seven horns do represent his omnipotence, and the seven eyes represent his omniscience. And all of this, as stated in verse 6, represents the Holy Spirit, who's everywhere, all the time, knows and sees all and is all powerful. What this verse boils down to is that Jesus, because he was born as a human, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, and was resurrected on the third day, is the only one who is worthy to open the scroll and break the seals. Almost like the argument of who is worthy to wield Thor's hammer. And no, I'm not going to try to pronounce that.

Jason: I think it's Mjolnir.

Laura: I will take your word for it. Verses 7 and 8 read, "He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God's people." So here we have Jesus taking the scroll from God's hand, and when he does so, the angels and elders bow down in worship of the only one who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll. We've got the harps for music, although singing isn't the only form of worship, and prayers.

These gold bowls do reference back to the specifications God gave Moses in building the tabernacle. Incense was burned as a sweet smelling aroma to carry prayers to God in Old Testament times. See Psalm 141:2. And under the New Covenant, our prayers continue to be a sweet smelling fragrance to God. Incense not included or required. These prayers though aren't just one specific type, supplication, imprecation, or intercession, but all of those prayers combined, as long as it's consistent with God's will. Prayers for those already dead won't be there. Prayers of ill will toward another won't be there, because they don't go along with God's will and so on and so forth.

Anyway, so going down to verses 9 through 14, there is a part of me that's so jealous of John. I mean, he gets to witness this incredible worship service and in verses 9 and 10, the elders and the four beings start singing a new song. Then in verses 11 and 12. The rest of the millions of angels join in, and depending on which Bible translation you have, the words might be somewhat familiar, as they are popular words used in worship songs in churches.

Jason: Yeah, this new song does vary a bit depending on the translation, but it does have some content that I feel is important, which is outlined in David Guzik's commentaries. The song honors the price of redemption, "for you were slain." It honors the worker of redemption, "have redeemed us." It honors the destination of redemption, "have redeemed us to God." it honors the payment for redemption, "by your blood." It honors the scope of redemption, "Every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (and there's that number four, again). It honors the length of redemption "have made us Kings and priests to our God." And it honors the results of redemption "and we shall reign on earth."

Laura: And when we get to verse 13, John sees every creature in heaven, on earth, and under the earth joining in with the rest of the song. Granted, these three parts might be sung in counterpoint, or each group might sing on its own. I mean, personally, I like the image of the beings and elders starting. Then the rest of the angels joining in, and then every other creature adding their voices in worship to Jesus.

And to wrap up this section, verse 14 reads, "And the four living beings said, Amen," and the twenty four elders fell down and worshipped the Lamb. It's still corporate worship, as they're all still in a large group, but it's also private worship, each having a unique and personal communion with all aspects of God.

Jason: and Laura, I hate to disrupt this image of peaceful worship, but the prophecy doesn't end there.

Laura: No, it doesn't.

Jason: I believe that people are familiar with the four horsemen of the apocalypse, which represents the four aspects of God's judgment that will be poured out on earth at the beginning of the tribulation. In the Olivet Discourse, Matthew, 24 and 25, Jesus talks about the false prophets, famine, wars, and disease that would be signs that the end of the world is drawing near.

Now, this warning takes us into what John describes in chapter 6 of the book of Revelation, starting with the white horse. So we now understand from chapter 5 that Jesus is the only one who can loosen the seals on the scroll, which contains the history and destiny of all mankind. And he does so starting in Revelation 6:1. "I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, Come." Now the command to come could also be translated into "come and see" or "go forth." But who issued this command? Well, one of the cherubim we discussed earlier.

Revelation 6:2 describes who he was giving that command to. "I looked, and there before me was a white horse, its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest." if this imagery gives you chills, it, it should. White represents victory, and there are some who believe that the white rider, or the rider of the white horse was Jesus because he's associated with the white horse later on in Revelation 19:11-16. However, it's more commonly believed that this is definitely not Jesus. This is the false imitator of the true Christ. This is the Antichrist. And this aligns to Daniel's vision of the little horn that rises to power bent on conquest found in Daniel 7:21, which reads, "As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them."

And then in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, Apostle Paul warns us, "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders to serve the lie." This is intended to be the final satanic dictator of men more terrible than any before, and he will rule over men as a false messiah leading men to rebel against God. Now this. The idea of a satanic dictator goes way back to Nimrod, who ruled over Babel, found in Genesis 10:8-14. The bow that the first horseman carries represents violence, and after three and a half years of peace, remember we said three and a half is bad, three and a half years of peace mentioned in Daniel 9:27, where it reads, "In the middle of the seven" this horseman's antichrist will wage war on the saints, which makes more sense when we get into the sealed of Israel and the multitude later on in this episode.

Laura: Okay, so before we move on to the second horseman, I mean, the first one was bad enough, but I want to go down another rabbit trail just for a moment.

Jason: Yay!

Laura: Ah,

Jason: love

Laura: love those rabbit trails. I do want to preface what I'm going to say with this. This part is purely my own speculation, put together from what I've read and watched in recent days and weeks.

Now I've recently watched a video, thank you Jason, that pointed out how our economic system has taken a significant downturn in recent years. Inflation has hit an all time high, rent and housing prices are skyrocketing, people are looking for relief. Relief from wherever they can find it. So this seems to be setting the stage for someone, that is, the Antichrist, the first horseman, etc., to come in and act as savior, implementing a one world currency and setting up a one world government to try to alleviate problems in the world today. Now I say act because while it may look kosher on the surface, his actions won't actually fix anything. And while people may be able to make do for a little while, it seems to me that there would be some sort of cataclysmic event that would sort of throw the world into a massive tailspin and cause people to immediately search for some sort of new leader.

Now my personal belief is that this event is the rapture. Millions of people disappear all at once. Some of those disappearances would likely cause other disasters, car accidents, plane crashes, etc. I mean all the children gone? Of course, the ones who are left are going to want someone to bring answers. And the Antichrist will have a ready made platform to step onto, and a whole earth to deceive.

Jason: Yep. Bone chilling. So violence and conquest has been unleashed on Earth. And now we move on to the next horseman. Revelation 6:3-4 "When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard a second living creature say, Come. Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from Earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword." So red is the color of blood and the color of each horse answers to the mission of the rider. Let that sink in for a minute. We often think that the second horseman is war, but this rider didn't bring war to earth. He just had to take peace away from earth. Once peace gifted by God was removed, men took care of the war and destruction all on their own.

Unfortunately, peace is not a natural state to humans. Over the course of the last 65 years, at least 50 million people have died in an armed conflict across the globe. This conflict won't always look like groups of people taking up arms against one another. Going back to the Olivet Discourse, we see in Matthew 24:9-12, Jesus warns of death, hatred, and betrayal leading up to the Great Tribulation on an individual level as well. Now understand, so far, the horsemen have been granted authority. Now, this authority comes from God, and was most likely the judgment of God. So, to summarize, we now have the Antichrist, Reign of Terror, and Bloodshed. What comes next?

Laura: Well, Revelation 6:5-6, tell us about the next horseman. "When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, Come. I looked, and there before me was a black horse. Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures saying, Two pounds of wheat for a day's wages and six pounds of barley for a day's wages. And do not damage the oil and wine." Well, this is interesting. So we have a black horse, which implies sadness and want. And the scales represent the need to carefully calculate and measure food rations, which tells us that food will become scarce. #SupplyChainIssues. And that means that this horseman is famine.

According to David Guzik's commentaries, the prices for the food Two pounds of wheat for a day's wages and six pounds of barley for a day's wages are about 12 times higher than normal. Which means it would take an entire day's wage to buy the ingredients for a loaf of bread. And this does seem to follow along with things we're currently seeing. And if the prices are skyrocketing now, I'd hate to see what it'll be like when the black horse rides in.

Now what's interesting is this last part. And do not damage the oil and wine. That suggests that the more expensive luxuries will be available to those who can afford them. So this tells us that everyone will be suffering except for the rich.

And this all kind of ties together because war and armed conflicts disrupt food systems and destroy the lives of people, leaving people wondering where their next meal will come from. This all plays into the hands of the Antichrist because he can and will be controlling the world's food supply. And we'll get there, we'll discuss this more when we get to chapter 13.

Jason: So, living under a ruthless dictator, dealing with war and famine, all leads to the outcome of the final horsemen in Revelation 6:7-8. "When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, come. I looked and there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth." So in other versions, like the NLT version, this is referred to as a pale green horse, and the color represents livid, according to Jameson Fawcett and Brown's commentaries. There will be a lot of pestilence and death following this fourth seal, and the release of the fourth horseman, obviously.

Over the history of our world, there's been quite a lot of death due to wars and famine caused by dictators. But this will all pale in comparison to the Tribulation. Pun originally not intended, but certainly appreciated.

Laura: I wondered if you'd done that one on purpose.

Jason: Nope. Nope.

Laura: One interesting thing I noticed, Jason, is that this rider of the pale horse is the only one who's named. He's also the only one who has Hades following. And these four tools used to destroy, they were predicted several times throughout scripture as to how God would destroy Jerusalem. See Leviticus 26:18:33. And as you mentioned earlier, are a parallel to what Jesus mentioned in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24. Wars, rumors of wars, famines, etc. Also interesting to note is that when Jesus mentions these He then mentioned the desecration of the temple, which many believe marks the midpoint of the tribulation, where the Antichrist goes in and declares himself to be God, which we'll get to later, so.

Jason: That's very interesting. I never put the name thing together, but if I were to guess, I would say that Hades was going to follow once all four horsemen were released. It just happened to follow death, because he was the last one, but remember the number four represents completion. So four horsemen make God's judgment complete.

Laura: And yet, we are only in chapter 5 of a 22 chapter book. Dun dun dun! To be continued.

Jason: Oh, once again, this authority is granted by God, even though the world will see tremendous suffering and death and there will be hell on earth. God is in control. The references to these horses and their colors are not unique to Revelation. Zechariah 6:1-8 described four chariots being pulled by horses of the same color, and they are referred to as the four spirits of heaven. And in spirit, within this context, comes from the Hebrew word ruach, which translates into wind. We'll talk about wind later. My Hebrew is terrible, by the way.

Laura: Well, no, that was fine.

Jason: So great, four horsemen are loose. We're done, right? Wrong!

Laura: Okay, what can be worse than the Four Horsemen? And one thing I've learned as a teacher is that you never ask a question you don't really want to know the answer to. I've also learned that is from being an aunt. Anyway, we've only opened four of the seven seals. War, famine, pestilence, beasts, and so much more has already been unleashed on the earth.

But we still have three more seals to break. Oh boy. Now, the fifth seal is broken in Revelation 6:9-11. "When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the Word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us? Then a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters, their fellow servants of Jesus who were martyred, had joined them." Now, we know that there have been martyrs throughout history, beginning with Stephen, and the Apostle Paul was actually a part of that, to the Apostles of Jesus, well, except for Judas, who killed himself, and John, who died naturally, to the martyrs of today.

Now, those who have been killed for their faith in Christ, those who refused to recant what they believed, Those who would rather lay down their own lives than proclaim any other as Lord, like Polycarp. These people are asking God when their lives will be avenged. When God will judge and punish those responsible for their deaths.

They were given white robes, which represent purity or innocence. And these men and women had done nothing to deserve death. Nothing, that is, aside from proclaiming Jesus as Lord. By that, they were innocent, not that they had committed no sin. And God's response is to tell them to sit back and rest. I guess, rest in peace, maybe? Until everyone who would be martyred had been. God knows how many that number will be. And when the last person is martyred, then God will exact His judgment on those who are guilty.

Jason: And something interesting I found was that the part that reads, "I saw under the altar, the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God" draws from the beginning of Leviticus 4:7, "and the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord," which suggests that their blood was poured out as an offering to God.

Laura: Right, and while God doesn't require our blood as an offering, He does take extra pleasure when people are willing to lay down their lives for His sake. Either literally or figuratively.

Jason: Yeah, when God's people are persecuted, he will take his revenge, much like how Abel cried out from the ground for vengeance in Genesis 4:10. It's coming, guys. I

Laura: Oh, it is. And if the church is raptured prior to the start of the tribulation, and some believe that will be marked by the signing of a seven year peace treaty with Israel, eh, going back to those current events, anybody? Then the only ones here will be those who know about or have heard about Jesus, but have never accepted him as Lord and Savior.

Maybe they didn't think much of it. Maybe they thought their friends and loved ones were crazy. Maybe they even thought they were Christians because their parents and their families were. Maybe they had all the book knowledge but hadn't made it a heart knowledge. These are the people who I believe will be the first converts during the Tribulation and continue to spread the Gospel. Some of these, and those they bring to Christ, will also be counted among those martyred, especially in the second half of the Tribulation.

Jason: I mean, overall, the fifth seal doesn't seem so terrible, unless you're the one doing the martyring, until you take into consideration the fact that these men and women of God are waiting for justice to be served. And God does promise that these martyrs will be avenged, and more so. They will witness the punishment of those who had killed them. The saints, martyred or not, are the apple of God's eye. And heaven help the one who touches the apple of His eye.

Laura: Alright, moving on to the sixth seal. We're getting back into the thick of it. Revelation 6:12-17 reads, "I, (that is John) watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. Then the stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from a tree shaken by a strong wind. The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places. Then everyone, the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person, all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?"

Jason: Can you say yikes? All right, let's start with the earthquakes. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus mentions that earthquakes will be one of the signs of the end of the world. Based on the singular word, it would stand to reason that there will be one massive earthquake possibly spanning the globe. It's also possible that there could be several large scale earthquakes that are occurring simultaneously.

And we know from our earth science courses that an earthquake in the ocean can cause a tsunami or several. Either way, the damage is going to be catastrophic, both from the earthquakes themselves and or from whatever tsunamis they spawn. There are also those who interpret this not as a literal earthquake, but As the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, or even the crumbling of the Roman empire. Again, it could be a combination of any or all of these things.

Laura: So, what about the celestial happenings? I mean, the sun becomes as dark as black cloth. I mean, this is generally believed to be a solar eclipse. Now, solar eclipses can usually only be seen for a specific time from very specific locations. From what I'm understanding from my research, this eclipse could last much longer than we're used to.

Others believe that the sun will be blotted out by smoke from the earthquakes. Or if you look at it from a political standpoint, it could be the light going out from the leaders of Judaism and the Roman empire, the moon becoming blood red. Well, we've seen blood moons in the past. Usually that happens during a lunar eclipse, but naturally this could simply be extended atmospheric conditions, causing the moon to stay red in appearance. There are those who take a figurative standpoint from this as well. That this blood Red Moon refers to the lesser leadership positions of the Jews and Romans.

Jason: So moving on to verse 13, John says, "Then the stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from a tree shaken by a strong wind." Interesting, there's that wind again. At first glance, this could sound like a meteor shower shooting stars and all that. But with revelation being full of symbolic imagery, what is stated may be literal, figurative, or both. It may very well be a meteor shower, or it could also just as easily represent notable men in Judaism and the Roman Empire falling from their esteemed positions. Either way, whatever it is will fall easily, like unripe figs easily fall from the tree when it's shaken.

Laura: Now, if that wasn't terrifying enough, John watches as the sky is rolled up like a scroll and all of the mountains and islands are moved from their places. Again, this imagery can have both a literal and figurative meaning. Figuratively, these events can refer to the end of Judaism's era or that of the Roman Empire, as in world governments and powers shift around.

With cross references in the Old Testament in Isaiah 34:4, which reads, "The heavens above will melt away and disappear like a rolled up scroll. The stars will fall from the sky like withered leaves from a grapevine, or shriveled figs from a fig tree." It stands to reason that this particular seal will be more literal than figurative. God is literally going to shake down both the heavens and the earth, most likely in preparation for the new heaven and new earth. And stay tuned for more on that later.

Jason: Yeah, so what about these people that go into hiding in verse 15? The kings, the rulers, the generals? The wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person. This indicates that nobody who is on earth at this time is exempt from God's judgment. Everyone faces the same grim, deadly events. There even comes a time when these people are well aware that they are facing the wrath of the Lamb. They recognize God's supremacy, but would rather die in an avalanche or a rock slide than repent and submit to his authority. As evidenced by these people, a knowledge of God does not always lead to faith in him.

Now, Paul says this quite clearly in Romans 1:18-22. "But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools."

Laura: Then in verse 17 of Revelation 6, the everyone, the kings, rulers, etc., say, "For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?" Clearly, they don't think anyone can survive. I mean, look at what has already happened. They're probably shocked that there are still people living after all of that.

And one thing to note is that "their wrath" refers to the wrath of both God the Father and Jesus. Pre Trib Rapture believers believe that Christians will not be here for these events, as we are not subject to and will never experience God's Wrath, see Romans 8:1. But keep listening as we talk about those who will be saved during this time.

Jason: Now we move on to the sealed of Israel and the multitude, which begins in Revelation 7, verses 1 through 4. "After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the 4 winds of earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or the sea or any tree. Then I saw another angel come up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a voice to the 4 angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea. Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God. Then I heard the number of those who were sealed. 144, 000 from all the tribes of Israel."

So we keep circling back to symbolism. And the number 144, 000 is definitely interesting. It represents limitless and completeness. It's the symbol of the new people of God. Numerically, we get it from 12 times 12, or 12 squared, multiplied by 1, 000. Remember, 12 represents eschatological perfection. It represents the tribes of Israel. Basically God's people, 24 is arguably the 12 tribes and 12 apostles or a plenitude of God's people in the church. Well, now we take 12 times 12 and multiply that by a thousand and a thousand represents a multitude or an innumerable quantity. All of this basically boils down to a way of designating the entirety of God's people, like all of them. Along the same lines, we see the number 4 again, 4 angels, 4 corners of the earth, holding back the 4 winds.

The idea here is that these angels affect the entire earth, and they are holding back the destructive force of God's judgment. We see this association of wind and God's judgment in other parts of the Old Testament, like Hosea 13:15. Now the four winds of the earth might actually refer back to the four horsemen we discussed earlier. See how this all kind of ties together?

Now as for this other angel sealing the people of God. Now in ancient times, a seal represented ownership or authenticity. I mentioned in another episode a while back that merchants would seal their wares, which established ownership. Kings would also use a seal to show both ownership as well as authenticity.

In Ezekiel 9:4, a similar seal was given to the righteous before Jerusalem was judged. Now, these 144, 000 were being sealed for a specific purpose. But understand that this seal was not exclusive to the 144, 000. Jesus was sealed by God the Father in John 6:27. In 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Paul explains that "God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ, he has anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come." And then Ephesians 1:13, Paul also explains that all those who are saved are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Laura: So the purpose of the seal is actually in answer to the question that was asked at the end of chapter 6, who is able to survive? Or stand as some versions say. Now this seal offers protection to those who belong to Jesus. This protection isn't exactly a physical protection, though with the angels holding back the winds, it could be interpreted that way as well.

It's promised that everyone on earth will suffer during the tribulation. And yes, some will also be martyred for their faith in Christ, going back to the fifth seal. So what protection does this offer, if not physical? I mean, certainly it affords those who bear it spiritual protection and a confident expectation of good, which I am aware it sounds contradictory, but think about it. Those who are believers, even today, know that if they do die, they will be in heaven with the Lord. I mean, That's a good thing. And the same will be true during the tribulation. Believers know they will be with Jesus should they end up dying. Now this seal is the exact opposite of the Mark of the Beast, which we mentioned briefly in our introduction episode, and we'll come back around to it later. This seal indicates who is owned by God, whereas the Mark of the Beast indicates who is owned by Satan.

Jason: And Revelation 7:5-8, it provides some details on who the 144, 000 are, sort of. It's a list of 12, 000 of the 12 tribes, tribe of Judah, tribe of Reuben, tribe of Gad. Interesting thing to note, the tribe of Dan is left out of this list. And some scholars believe that they are the tribe of the Antichrist based on Jeremiah 8:16, and possibly Daniel 11:37.

Another interesting point here is that the tribe of Ephraim is referred to indirectly as the tribe of Joseph. If recall, Joseph was represented by two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh.

Laura: Now there is a method to the madness, or rather to the order, in which the tribes are listed, but I'm not going to chase this rabbit too far. And why the tribes here are different than in Genesis 49. I mean here, Judah is listed first because Judah was the tribe from which Jesus came. Reuben comes next because he was the oldest son of Jacob, that is Israel.

Back in Genesis, Levi wasn't really mentioned with the tribes because his tribe didn't get any land because they were priests. But the tribe of Levi is listed here in Revelation. Now, as Jason just mentioned, Dan was left out because that tribe was known for rebellion and idolatry. So, I mean, it would stand to reason that the Antichrist could be descended from that tribe.

As we just said, Joseph's tribe was usually split between his sons Ephraim and Manasseh, but here Ephraim went back to Joseph because Ephraim, like Dan, complete rebellion and all those things. And I do believe Benjamin was mentioned last because he was Israel's youngest son.

Jason: Now, some scholars believe these are literal numbers recording Jews for each tribe who became believers in Christ. Dispensational interpretation suggests that this number refers to Jews saved during the final seven year tribulation period. Some agree that symbolically this number represents all Christians throughout history, both Jews and Gentiles.

The problem with this theory is that Israel is a term that was never specifically applied to the church in the New Testament. Plus their tribal affiliation is emphatic and known to God. What we do know is that these 144, 000 were not believers when the rapture started, or when the rapture happened. Their repentance comes too late for that, assuming you fall into the pre trib camp.

Laura: The commentary in one of my study Bibles indicates that this listing doesn't actually correlate with the 12 physical tribes of Israel, as one of the theories you just mentioned, Jason. It says that by the AD 90s, that is just 90s, not the 1990s, Israel's 12 tribes no longer existed as they did in the Old Testament, or even when Jesus walked the earth.

10 of the tribes were dispersed when Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 2 King 17. And there are some scriptural references to the early Christian Church regarding itself, symbolically as the Israel of God. And I'm gonna go through these pretty quickly.

Matthew 19:27-28, "Then Peter said to him, We've given up everything to follow you. What will we get? Jesus replied, I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Romans 2:28-29, "For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God, and true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law, rather it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit, and a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people."

Galatians 3:26-29 says, :For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, and all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you."

Then finally, Galatians 6:15-16 says, "It doesn't matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God's peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle. They are the new people of God."

So the theory is that these 144, 000 people that God knows belongs to him are men and women who become believers after the rapture of the church and ones who have his spiritual, if not physical, protection as God's wrath and judgment are poured out on the earth.

Jason: When we get to Revelation 14, these 144, 000 will come up again.

But moving on to the great multitude. Now before we jump into that, let's take a step back to Matthew 24:14, where Jesus says, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations. And then shall the end come."

So Jesus is promising that before the end, the gospel will be spread to the entire world. The Great Commission will be fulfilled. Now Revelation 7:9-10 reads, "After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing the white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb."

Remember, John witnesses in heaven and everything is in reference to the throne of God. But let's break this down a bit. The white robes remind us not only of covering of the righteousness of Jesus, as we've mentioned before, but also represents priestly service. Now the palm branches serve as a reminder and a symbol of Jesus's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem in John 12:12-16, where a great multitude of people gathered and when they heard Jesus was coming, they greeted Jesus with palm branches and shout, "Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."

And once again, we are reminded that salvation is not something we earn. It's something that comes from God. And then in Revelation 7:11-12, John witnesses all the heavenly creatures joining worship saying, "Amen, praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever, Amen."

What an awesome sight that must have been.

Laura: I know, right?

Jason: Yeah, I know. Can you imagine?

Laura: Oh, I can only, I can only imagine.

Jason: Now, this next part seems a bit peculiar to me at first. Revelation 7:13-14. "Then one of the elders asked me, These in white robes, who are they and where do they come from? I answered, Sir, you know. And he said, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

So it seems like it was important that John understand who this multitude were. Maybe he thought that was important to you, but it was a shame to ask. I mean, who knows, but the elder prompted him. And it turns out that these are the people rescued from the Great Tribulation. People from every tribe, every nation, every tongue, etc.

Some believe that most, if not all of these people are martyrs from the Great Tribulation. But what a testament to the grace and glory of God. I mean, even during this time of judgment. When the literal wrath of God is raining down on earth, so many are saved. Now there, there are theories that since the great multitude is mentioned after the 144, 000, that these people were saved largely in part, if not completely due to the work of those 144, 000. Perhaps these were evangelists who sought to reap this harvest for the kingdom of heaven during this time of judgment.

And, and guess what? They are saved just like everyone else. They are washed clean by the blood of the lamb. Now, understand that even their martyrdom doesn't save them, only the work of Jesus can do this. And here comes the beautiful part, in this devastating time, the joy and the darkness that we can only have as disciples of Christ.

Revelation 7:15-17, "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 shelter them in his presence. Never again will they hunger, never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to the spring of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Wow.

Laura: Doesn't that sound amazing? I mean, God will live among us, and we will have the privilege of serving our Lord in his kingdom, free of hunger, free of thirst, free of pain and suffering, and God himself will wipe the tears from our eyes, and he will remove the grief of our past. Every need will be taken care of, and we will be in the loving embrace of our Lord. Our earthly troubles will be gone.

Jason: Huh, sounds wonderful.

Laura: Yes, it does.

Jason: I like to consider how these visions were presented to John. The scroll with the seven seals was introduced in Revelation 5. Then the first six seals were opened in Revelation 6. Then the focus shifts from the seals to revealing the 144, 000, the great multitude that came out of the great tribulation in Revelation 7.

Now we go to Revelation chapter 8, which begins with the seventh seal being opened. Revelation 8:1 reads, "When he opened the seventh seal, there was a silence in heaven for about half an hour." I struggle to find words to describe how this makes me feel like I even saying this. After, after we've gone over this before, it gives me a bit of a chill.

This silence is deafening. All of the cherubim, all of the elders, all of the voices in heaven just stop. I mean, perhaps it was some breathing room. Maybe it was silent in heaven to hear the prayers of the saints or the cries of the martyrs. Jesus breaks the seventh seal and there is silence to honor this moment of finality. Then in Revelation 8:2, "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them."

Laura: According to Jewish tradition, there are seven angels who stand in the presence of God and they are handed trumpets. And in the Old Testament, trumpets sounded the alarm for war to help send the enemy into a panic. Trumpets were also used to call an assembly of God's people, which I guess that kind of goes back to the voice of a trumpet from 2 Thessalonians.

And these seven trumpets will be God's battle cry during the great tribulation. So, we'll finish this episode with Revelation 8:3-5. "Another angel who had a golden censer came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all God's people on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense together with the prayers of God's people went up before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth. And there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake." Wait, another one? Anyway, some believe that this other angel is Jesus, and others say it could be just a regular angel, but is there a regular angel? I don't know. And, as mentioned before, incense is often associated with prayer in the Bible. So, before anything happens after the seventh seal is opened, the prayers of God's people come before the Lord, and the ascension of the incense shows us that God accepted the prayers in the offering. Then the prayers get touched by the fire from the altar in heaven and hurled back down to earth.

And when the prayers of God's people return to earth, they bring a groundswell of judgment. And this is just the beginning.

Jason: And just like a true cliffhanger, we'll end the episode here, but be sure to join us next time. We will talk about what happens when the trumpets are sounded and what devastating judgments await the earth in our next episode of Unveiling Revelations on the My Ministry Mission Podcast. Until then. Remember to love each other, remember to read your Bibles, and may the Lord bless you and keep you. God bless, everyone.

Laura: Bye.