The Finale – Day 4

May 4, Monday

SCENE 2 – The Scroll is Opened

white robed around throneI saw the Lamb take the scroll and break open the first seal. Suddenly a voice thundered, “COME!” It was one of the four creatures who spoke, and a rider on a white horse sped past. The rider had a crown and took his bow to wage war on the earth.

When the second seal was broken, another of the four living creatures shouted, “COME!” Then I saw a rider on a red horse. He was carrying a great sword, and his job was to stir up conflict and remove all peace from the earth.

The third seal was broken. The third creature called for a rider on a black horse, who rode past holding a pair of scales. A voice in the midst of the creatures declared, “A loaf of bread for a whole day’s wage, so also three loaves of barley. Do not touch the oil and the wine.” He brought intense famine upon the whole earth.

As the fourth seal was broken and the fourth creature said, “COME!,” a pale yellowish-green horse approached whose rider was Death. The Grave followed close behind and they were given authority to wipe out one fourth of the earth by means of sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts.

The fifth seal was very different. Beneath the altar I saw the souls of all who had been martyred because of their testimony and the offense of the Word of God. They cried out in unison, “How long, O Lord, Holy and True, will You hold back from avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then I watched as each was given a white robe and told to wait just a little longer until more of their brethren joined them as martyrs.

When the Lamb broke the sixth seal, there was a great earthquake, the sun was darkened, and the moon turned blood red. Stars fell to the earth like ripe figs falling from trees in a windstorm, the sky was rolled up like a scroll, and mountains and islands disappeared.

By this point terror swept over the earth. From the highest world leaders, the rich and famous, and military generals, to the lowest class slaves, everyone ran for the hills and hid wherever they could find cover. I heard them praying to the rocks around them, saying, “Fall on us! Don’t let that One who sits on the throne see us!  Hide us from the wrath of the Lamb! The dreaded Day of Their anger has arrived and who can stand up to Them?”

SCENE 3 – Freeze Action on Earth, Protection Provided

A little later I could see four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the winds so that they would not blow at all. Then another angel came up from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. He called out to the four angels who had power to destroy, “Don’t touch the earth, the sea, or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads!”  These angels went out and marked twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin), a total of 144,000.

Then suddenly a huge crowd was approaching the throne of the Lamb. They were dressed in dazzling white robes and held palm branches in their hands. I could tell that among the millions were people from every corner of the earth: every nation, every tribe, every language. In a thundering chorus they shouted, “Salvation belongs to our God Who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb!”

I saw encircling the throne all the angels, the elders, and the four living creatures, bowing down to the throne. Together they declared, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and authority and might belong to our God forever and ever!”

One of the twenty-four elders asked if I knew who this huge crowd dressed in white was or where they had come from. “No sir,” was my reply, “but surely you know.”

“Yes,” he answered, “they have just come out of the great tribulation. The white robes show that they have cleansed themselves in the blood of the Lamb.  That is why they have been given the honor of serving before God’s throne.

“Day and night as they minister to God, He will shelter them and be all that they need. Never again will they suffer hunger or thirst. The Lamb Who sits front and center on the throne will shepherd them, leading them to springs of living water and shading them from the scorching heat of the sun. God Himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Then, as the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was total silence throughout Heaven for what seemed like half an hour.

The Finale – Day 3

May 3, Sunday

ACT TWO – Heaven Declares War

SCENE 1 – The Lamb is Center Stage

around-the-throne-of-heavenAfter that I saw an open door leading into Heaven and I heard that trumpet-like Voice again, this time saying, “Come up here so I can show you what will happen next.”

Instantly I was in the Spirit and looking at a marvelous throne. But what really caught my attention was the One sitting on the throne! How can I describe the scene?

  • He radiated beauty like that of pure gems: jasper and carnelian, with an emerald-like rainbow encircling Him.
  • Surrounding His throne were twenty-four more thrones with twenty-four elders upon them. They wore white garments and had gold crowns on their heads.
  • Flashes of lightning and loud peals of thunder came from His throne.
  • There were seven lamps burning in front of the Throne, the seven Spirits of God.
  • Stretching out in front of the Throne was a crystal lake, clear as glass.

Four unusual creatures were hovering about the throne, each with six wings and with eyes on all sides of their bodies:

  • the first was like a lion,
  • the second was like a calf,
  • the third had a face like a man,
  • the fourth was like a flying eagle.

Day and night these creatures declare, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, Who was and Who is and Who is to come.”

As they express this tribute to the One sitting on the throne, the twenty-four elders bow down before Him, lay their crowns at His feet, and add to the chorus of worship, saying, “You are worthy, O Lord! All glory, honor, and authority belongs to You because You created all things and everything exists for Your pleasure.”

Then I noticed that the One seated on the throne held a scroll in His right hand. It had writing on both sides but was sealed up with seven seals.

A mighty angel boomed out, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break the seals?”

But there was no one in heaven or on earth who qualified even to look into it. I began to weep over this until one of the elders said, “Wait! Stop your tears. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome. He has authority to break the seals and open the scroll.”

That’s when I saw Him approach the throne — a Lamb, One that had obviously been sacrificed. He had seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into the whole earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of the One who sat on the throne.

As He took the scroll, the four creatures along with the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. They each had a harp and golden bowls full of smoking incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Then they began singing this new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to break its seals, for You were slain.  With Your blood You have purchased for Your God men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them kings and priests to minister to God, and they will reign upon the earth.”

Joining them was the voice of countless angels, myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. Together with the creatures and the elders, they said with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive authority, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and on the sea, every living thing everywhere, saying,

“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

The four living creatures kept saying, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

The Finale – Day 2

May 2, Saturday

7 lampstandsACT ONE- The Son of Man & The Seven Churches

It was the Day of the Lord and I was in the Spirit when suddenly I heard a loud Voice from behind me. It shook me like a trumpet-blast.

“Write down everything you see,” the Voice said, “and send it to the churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

I turned around to see Who was speaking, and there, standing among seven gold lampstands, was the Son of Man. He was wearing a kingly robe with a gold sash across His chest. His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes blazed like they were on fire and His feet were glowing like bronze just taken from the furnace. His voice thundered like a mighty waterfall.

In His right hand He was holding seven stars, and out of His mouth was a sharp two-edged sword. His face glowed like the sun shining in full strength.

Overcome by His majestic presence, I fell at His feet like I was dead. Then He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid.  I am the First and the Last, the Living One. I was dead, but look, I am alive forever and I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

“So write down the things you have seen, the things that are going on right now, and the things that will be happening in the future.”

“The seven lampstands represent the seven churches to whom I am addressing this revelation, and the stars you saw in My hand are the seven angels of the seven churches.”

EPHESUS                                       

“To the Church in Ephesus I say,

“This message comes from the One Who holds the seven stars in His right hand, and Who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“I know what you have done:

  • how hard you have worked,
  • what hardships you have endured,
  • that you won’t tolerate evil people,
  • how you cross-examined self-proclaimed ‘apostles’ proving them to be liars,
  • how you have suffered for My Name without giving up time after time,
  • and that you hate the immoral deeds of the Compromisers (Nicolaitans) as I do.

“But I hold this against you: you have left your first love.

“Remember how it was when you first believed. Return to loving Me as you did then. If you don’t do this, I will have to remove your lampstand.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

Those who overcome will get to eat from the tree of life which grows in the Paradise of God.”

SMYRNA                                       

“To the Church in Smyrna I say,

“This message comes from the First and the Last, Who was dead and has come to life again.

“I know:

  • the tribulation you go through,
  • your poverty (though you are really rich),
  • the slander you endure from those so-called Jews who are a synagogue of Satan.

Don’t fear what you will be suffering:

  • the devil will be having some of you put in prison,
  • your faith will be tested,
  • the distress will last for ten days.

“Be faithful in the face of death and I will give you the crown of life.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

Those who overcome will not be the least bit affected by the second death.”

PERGAMUM                               

“To the Church in Pergamum I say,

“This message comes from Him Who has the sharp two-edged sword.

“I know:

  • where you live — in Satan’s headquarters,
  • that you have stayed loyal to Me,
  • that your trust in Me didn’t waver even when Antipas, My faithful witness, was martyred before your eyes by Satan’s cohorts.

“But these things must change:

  • Some among you encourage moral compromise like Balaam did when he showed Balak how to seduce the children of Israel into doing evil.
  • Others in your group are caught up in the deception of the Nicolaitans.

“These had better repent quickly or I will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

To those who overcome I will give hidden manna and a white stone with a new name written on it, a name which only those who receive it will understand.”

THYATIRA                                     

“To the Church in Thyatira I say,

“This message comes from the Son of God Whose eyes blaze like fire and Whose feet shine like pure bronze.

“I know:

  • how much you have done for Me,
  • that you have loved Me and stayed loyal to Me,
  • how faithfully you have persevered in serving Me,
  • that you are doing even more now than you did at first.

“But this I hold against you: you tolerate that pseudo-prophetess “Jezebel” who deceives My servants with her seductive words, leading them into sexual immorality and fellowshipping with idolaters.

“I have given her time to repent but she has no desire to change her ways. Watch! I will throw her and her children onto a sickbed and they will suffer unto death unless they repent. Then all the Churches will know that I see into the secret places of men’s hearts and that I reward each according to their deeds.

“For those of you who haven’t fallen into her trap and learned “the deep things of Satan,” I simply ask that you hold on to what you have until I come.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

To those who overcome, who steadfastly serve Me to the end, I will give authority over the nations. They shall rule with a rod of iron and break them to pieces like useless pottery. I give them the morning star just as the Father gave Me His authority.”

SARDIS                                       

“To the Church in Sardis I say,

“This message comes from Him Who holds in His hand the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.

“I know about all your activity, which gives you a reputation as being alive when, in fact, you are quite dead.

“Wake up!

  • Strengthen what little you have before it dies: you start so many things but never follow through.
  • Think back to what you learned and received at first: take hold of those things and act on them.

“If you refuse to wake up, I will come to you like a thief; you’ll be caught completely by surprise!

“I know the names of those few left in Sardis who have “kept their garment clean.” They have earned the right to walk with Me in radiant glory.

Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

Those who overcome will receive glorious white garments and I will never erase their names from the Book of Life. No, I will gladly declare their names to My Father and His angels.”

PHILADELPHIA                                   

“To the Church in Philadelphia I say,

“This message comes from the One Who is holy and true, Who has the ‘key of David,’ the One Who opens doors so none can shut them and shuts doors so none can open them.

“I know how much you have accomplished.

“Look!

  • Because you have been faithful to My message and not denied My Name but have used what little you were given to do so much, I have set before you a wide open door of opportunity that no one can close.
  • Those liars who claim to be Jews but are really of Satan’s synagogue will bow down before you and be forced to admit that I have loved you.
  • Since you’ve obeyed Me so thoroughly, I will keep you safe from the deep trouble the rest of the world is about to face.

“I am coming back soon; hold on to what you have and don’t let anyone steal your crown.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

Those who overcome I will make pillars in the Temple of My God, permanently established in His presence. I will write upon him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem which comes down from Heaven from My God. And I will write upon him My own new name.”

LAODICEA                                      

“To the Church in Laodicea I say,

“This message comes from the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Founder of God’s creation.

“I know all about your activities; they are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were cold or hot; but since you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of My mouth.

“You think of yourself as prosperous and quite successful. You’re blind to the fact that you are actually wretched, miserable, poverty-stricken, blind, and naked.

“Here’s My urgent advice to you:

  • Buy from Me that gold which is purified in the furnace so you can be truly rich.
  • Clothe yourselves with My white garments to cover your shameful nakedness.
  • Ask Me for salve to heal your blind eyes.

“I always correct and discipline those whom I love. Shake off your complacency. Humble yourself. Repent! I’m standing, knocking at the door. Listen! Do you hear My voice? Let Me into your life, and let us commune together.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

Those who overcome will have the privilege of sitting with Me on My throne just as I have overcome and sit beside My Father on His throne.”

The Finale – Day 1

What an unusual way to end a “book” — especially since we know from other historical resources what happened next.  Why this sudden “The End” in the middle of a page-turner about first-century world-changers?  Aha!  Maybe it wasn’t intended to be The End.  What we call The Book of Acts or The Acts of the Apostles was really never given an inspired title.  If Part One of the Trilogy (The Jesus’ Story) was God presenting His plan and solution for bringing about the perfect Kingdom of God, then Part Two (The Sequel) is the ongoing story of how the plan is taking shape in our lifetime(s). Just maybe the Author wanted to pull the reader into the action in such a way that by the time they reached yesterday’s blog, they’ve become part of the story themselves! I hope you’re “in.”

Working through the complex images and metaphors of Revelation, my brain felt rather like a pretzel, all twisted and randomly connected . . . or not.  But I just kept pushing forward, trying to visualize the scenes and organize the drama.  It wasn’t until I was finished with it that I realized the best way (at least at first) to take in The Finale is to experience it like a high-tech, Imax theatre production.  What do I mean?  When you go to a theatre to watch a cinematic thriller, you don’t get a remote control to pause the presentation every time there’s a character or plot twist you don’t understand.  No, you simply have to sit still and let the show go on from beginning to end.  After all, the director of the project mainly wants you to come away so gripped with the overall impact that you have to go back time and again to fit the pieces together.  That’s what you need to do with this complex little “thriller.”  Read it through.  Ask the Director what He mainly wants you to get from it first time through.  And now, buckle your seatbelts, The Finale is about to begin!

May 1, Friday

alpha omegaPROLOGUE – Narrator

This is God’s revelation of things to come, the Word from God regarding Jesus Christ. This Message was delivered to God’s bond-slave, John, by the Angel of the Lord.

A special blessing is promised to all who read these words, listen to them, and keep them. The time of fulfillment is very near.

I, John, am particularly addressing this to the seven Churches in Asia.

Grace to you and peace from Him

  • Who is,
  • Who was,
  • Who is coming;
  • from the seven Spirits before His throne;

and from Jesus Christ

  • The faithful Witness,
  • First-born of the dead,
  • Ruler of the kings of the earth.

Glory and never-ending dominion belong to Him who loves us

  • Who has released us from our sins by His own blood,
  • Who has made us into a Kingdom,
  • Who has made us priests to His God and Father.

Look! He is coming through the clouds! Every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. The sight will bring every tribe on earth to its knees in bitter grief. Amen!

“I am the Beginning (Alpha) and the End (Omega),” declares the Lord God,
“Who is, Who was, and Who is to come,
the Supreme Almighty.”

This Word came to me when I was exiled on Patmos for declaring God’s Word and telling people about Jesus. We are brothers in Him, and in Him we share in suffering for the Kingdom and in patiently enduring all the difficulties we face, just as Jesus our Messiah did.