“Perfect Ending” - Revelation 6; 7:9-17 – Pastor Scott Shimada
God is always in control and He will bring about a perfect ending.
God knows what the future holds. Not because He guesses but because He knows all and sees all. As humans, we see the present and we remember the past. Our timeline is limited. But God can see everything in the past and in the future. He gives us a glimpse of what is to come in the book of Revelation. It can be confusing and can be hard to understand but we will do our best to study it and present to you what we believe God is saying in His Word. What will we see in the future?
1) We will see the perfect judgment. Chapter 6 – shows us that judgment will be coming. There are six seals to go over and they all point to different types of judgment. This is the first of three 7-part judgments. Later we will see the 7 trumpets in chapters 8, 9. Then in chapter 16, we will see the 7 bowls, but now we see the 7 seals.
Last week, we saw that the Lamb is Jesus and we understand that this scroll is the history and destiny of mankind and creation. Only Jesus – the Lamb – has the right to open the seals. Each of the first 4 seals starts with one of the 4 creatures saying, “Come” and one of 4 horses of different colors. Judgment is coming.
The first horse is white and it is the anti-Christ. (v.1-2) In old cowboy movies, usually the guy on the white horse was the good guy. And this guy seems good. He was given a crown which means he rules and he conquered which means he had dominion over the earth. But by looking at the results of his rule, we see that this is not a good guy. NOT Jesus as some may think. He is actually the anti-Christ. And he will not bring real peace – just a false peace as we will see. He will be a false messiah. When we see white in the Bible, we think purity, holiness, clean. This is not the case here. Looks can be deceiving. A bow is mentioned but no arrows. A bow without arrows is useless. Just for show. But a bow with arrows is more dangerous than even a sword. It can penetrate from longs distances. It is powerful. But without arrows, it is nothing. The bow might be symbolizing economic or political power.
The second horse is red (v.3-4) and it represents war. The horse itself did not wage war – only took away peace. And once peace is taken away, men rush to fight and destroy. Peace between men is a gift from God. Peace is not a natural state between men and nations.
The third horse is black (v.5-6) and represents famine. He carries a pair of scales for measuring grains. A voice says the prices which are inflated – about 12 times higher than normal. During this time, life will be reduced to the barest necessities.
And yet the oil and wine will not be harmed. This would benefit those who could afford it. The rich were the primary consumers of oil and wine so this would have a social significance.
The fourth horse is pale and represents death. (v.7-8) This is a culmination of the previous three horses. There will be many deaths from their destruction. The death toll coming from this dictator will be huge. “pestilence” – a fatal epidemic disease – sound like today? But notice what it says before that – they were given authority over a fourth of the earth. God gave them the authority. God is and always will be very much in charge. Even in the midst of tragedy.
The fifth seal reveals why there was so much devastation. (v.9) “under the altar” – the fact that their blood is under the altar shows that it was poured out as an offering to God. Leviticus 4:7 says “…and all the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering…” (v.10) We may not be used to hearing God’s people cry out for vengeance but here they call out to God and leave it up to Him. We’ve seen this before in Genesis 4:10, 11
white robe – symbol of victory and purity. The martyrs were told to rest a while longer. How long? until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. the number of – is a phrase provided by the translators and not actually in the original text. It may mean that they wait until the character of the remaining martyrs on earth is perfected.
We need to remember – it is the character – the way that we live and NOT the way we die that makes us a martyr.
The final seal in this chapter is the 6th seal – the seventh seal introduces the 7 trumpets and they have their own meaning and will be explained in chapter 8. The sixth seal previews the destruction of the first heaven and earth. Everything will be destroyed. (vv.12-14) The land (earthquake), sun, moon, stars, sky, mountains and islands…all destroyed! Celestial disturbances are often connected to the coming of the Messiah. The books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Zephaniah all described these things. So did Jesus. (vv.15-17) Everyone is affected. From the mighty and rich and powerful (kings and generals) to slaves who had nothing. All will be hiding from God and His judgment.
Biblical scholar Henry Swete once said, “What sinners dread most is not death but the revealed presence of God.” We all know there is a God. But many do not. And they are in for a huge shock. We will all one day have to come before His presence and be accountable for the choices we made here on earth. Sadly, for many, their choice to turn away from Jesus on earth will lead them to a final judgment and not being with Jesus for eternity. But for the believer there is hope and that leads us, finally, to our second point. What will we see in the future?
2) The perfect victory – Salvation. (ch.7:9-10) great multitude – some think it’s the martyrs from Revelation 6:9. Perhaps it’s the 144,000 mentioned earlier in this chapter. Either way, it’s composed of all those who have given their lives to Jesus. Those who remained faithful to Him. There is no set number of tickets for this event. No sell outs. There is no one race or one language. Every nation, tribe, people and language will be represented. White robes – the robe is a very important piece of clothing in the Bible. It’s not just something to wear, it represents who the person is and what status that person has. Like I mentioned earlier, it symbolizes victory and purity. And we will be wearing white robes. White represents purity because that is what we are when we are in Christ. We are a part of His family, not only created by Him. Also saved by Him and a part of His redemption plan. We share in His victory!
And the palm branches – they were waved before Jesus at the triumphal entrance of Jesus entering Jerusalem. The people shouted “Hosanna” which means “help.” Or “save, I pray.” And Jesus did save us, as He died on the cross for us. And now these palm branches signify victory of the martyrs and victory of the spirit over the flesh.
Wearing the white robe and waving the palm branches shows that at that point, the victory is ours. The battle is over and as it says in verse 10… Salvation belongs to our God. That word for salvation can also be translated as “deliverance” and “victory.” He has won, He sits on the throne and we all know that He who sits on the throne is the King and Ruler of all.
We join Him in His victory. We have the white robe which signifies our status with Him. We are not outsiders watching. We are participants. We are a part of God’s family and get to enjoy all the spoils of this victory.
When you put your faith in Jesus, you get to enjoy His victory! You are a part of the greatest team ever assembled; a member of God’s family – salvation!
3) We get to worship the perfect God. (vv.11-12) Don’t think of it as being like a church service 24 hours a day 7 days a week. More like the joy of being with the one you love more than anyone else.
Elders – in Rev 4:4, says there are 24. Some think they represent the 12 tribes of Israel in the Old Testament and the 12 apostles of the New Testament. All are the redeemed of God. All are a part of His family. Jews and Gentles - all who are redeemed in the Lord are worshipping Him forever. Four creatures, (Rev. 4:6b-8) each represents qualities and characteristics of God: Lion – majesty and power; Ox – faithfulness; Man – intelligence; Eagle – sovereignty.
What an amazing God! 7 attributes! The number 7 represents a number for perfection, for completion. praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power and strength all represent complete and perfect praise for a complete and perfect God.
God knows all, He never makes mistakes and He is in complete control. AND – here’s the kicker – with all this power – He has your best interest in mind! Yes, He is on your side and He wants to help you! And we get to worship Him! We get to worship the perfect God.
4) We get to have the perfect ending! Rev. 7:13-14 (v.14) Great tribulation – some scholars believe this to be a specific time of intense tribulation yet to come. Some believe it’s the suffering that we go through during our lives. Different pastors and scholars have different views on this. There are 4 main views and all the pastors of this church have the same belief that we are all post tribulation and pre-millenium. That means we believe Jesus will return after the tribulation and before the millennium. Again, if any of the pastors believed anything differently, it would not be a deal breaker. In either case, the verse is referring to a time after going through this period.
Robes made white – you don’t make things white by washing it in blood. Blood cannot make things white but the blood of Christ is the ultimate cleanser as it takes away the stain of sin. We are in white robes because we are family, allowed to live under the care of the true King, in the house of God. (Rev.7:15) It says they (we) are before the throne of God. We are in His temple. (naos = habitation of God).
If you have put your faith in Jesus, you can rest knowing that your eternity is secure and you will be with Him forever. You can enjoy your white robe and relax and enjoy His victory for you! But if you haven’t made that decision yet, please consider doing so. It’s for all eternity! God will spread His tent of consistent and complete shelter over us. For those who have faith in Jesus – we will never have to go hungry or thirsty ever again! And the sun will not be a problem. Having shelter to be protected from those harmful rays, to not be beaten down by the hot sun and the scorching heat.
God will bring about a perfect ending! All believers will be able to spend an eternity in Paradise. No matter how tough your life here on earth is. No matter how many times you stumbled and fell and made bad choices, you can still find yourself in a place where there will be no more tears. Nothing to make you cry. No pain. No sickness. No sadness. Now that is a happy ending! It’s all been written and prepared by God!
Praise Songs: The Lion and the Lamb, Come Thou Fount, Praise the Father Praise the Son, Doxology