Allen Jackson - The Revelation - Part 2
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It's an honor to be with you today. We're considering spiritual things, particularly in the book of Revelation. What we're really trying to do is become better stewards of a spiritual life, and the book of Revelation is a wonderful place to learn about that. Let's not get so focused on which beast did what or which horn meant what to whom. Let's see if we can have a window into a spiritual life that's revealed to us in the book of Revelation. It's a powerful canvas, and it'll change our lives. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.
You know, sometimes I talk to people, and they talk such spiritual nonsense, I can't figure out what they're doin'. You ever meet those people? When you listen to 'em, you think they couldn't get dressed unless they had a word from the Lord. And I believe in a Word from the Lord, but, you know, "I didn't know what to wear today, and the Lord told me to wear a red tie". Well, bless your heart. Have I annoyed everybody yet? On the other hand, I very much believe that God gives us direction, but if the Lord told you to wear a red tie, how about just being quiet until the Lord makes known to you why that red tie was gonna be helpful for you? You don't have to, if you have to announce to everybody, you say the Lord told you what tie to wear, it feels, to me, like, the Lord would've been more effective to tell everybody else he told you to wear the red tie.
Someone came to me, one time, and said, "God told us to launch this initiative, and we came to see if you would fund it," and they were people with some experience with the Lord, and I said, "Well, I think, if the Lord wanted me to launch that initiative, he would've told me, but I'll pray for you". What we wanna welcome is the person of the Holy Spirit. I don't wanna get off track too far, heh. We're in the throne room. We've seen the Lamb in the center of the throne. Verse 8, "When he had taken it", the Lamb takes the scroll, "the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints". Did you know your prayers are in heaven? That blesses me. "And they sang a new song, 'You're worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You've made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.'"
You see, the thing that commends us to God is the blood of Jesus, not those other things. We were delivered from tribes and languages and people distinctions and nations to be unified by the blood of Jesus. We stand together under the shed blood of Jesus. That's a very important thing. "And they'll reign on the earth". Did you know we're gonna reign on the earth? Not on this side of eternity. The King has to come back and establish his kingdom. He taught us to pray, "Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". That's where we're headed. The King is coming back, and we will rule and reign on earth with him. That's pretty exciting stuff. "And then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand". That's 100 million angels. That's a bunch.
"And they encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. And in a loud voice they sang, 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.'" And then that's 100 million angels doin' that. That's not a quiet thing. "Then I heard every creature in heaven, on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever.'" Every living creature. Remember when Satan, after Jesus was baptized and he was in the wilderness for 40 days, Satan came to tempt him? The last of the temptations was "Bow down and worship me".
See, I think what caused Satan pride was the motivation, but my understanding is what he was after was the worship and the adulation that he knew was coming to Jesus, but Jesus took the opposite track. He laid aside his glory. He didn't imagine equality with God something to be grasped. It's Philippians 2: "He made himself nothing. He took the nature of a servant. He humbled himself and became obedient, obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him," it says. And now we have the picture of this exalted King, but when you look to see the Lion, he's a Lamb that's been slain. So we've got 100 million angels, and then every creature in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and all that's in them, and verse 14, "Then the four living creatures said, 'Amen,' and the elders fell down and worshiped".
You know, I watch a lot of worship stuff, videos, and new songs and things, and I appreciate creativity and the desire we have to be creative, but when I'm watching the biblical pictures of worship, they look different than some of our stuff. There's a lot of bowing down. There's a lot of faces on the floor. There's some loud voices, and there's some things, but sometimes, when I watch our worship, they look, to me, more like pagan rituals. Anyway, that's another day. Chapter 6. You know, the chapter breaks weren't there in the original text. We added those so we could find our places more quickly. "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.' And I looked, and there before me was a white horse".
So we've transitioned from the scene where the Lamb takes the throne from the hand of God. He's worthy to open the seals, and he breaks the first seal, and John is invited to look. What happened when the seal is broken and the scene is unfurled? And he said, "Before me was a white horse, and its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest". It's the first of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. And just to, verse 3, "When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, 'Come.' And another horse came out, a fiery red one, and its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword".
For the moment, let's not get into the four horsemen and what they represent, the red horse and the black horse and the pale horse. It's a legitimate discussion, but for the moment, could we establish that the events in heaven dictate outcomes on earth? To me, that feels like a far more significant principle than even the specifics. The events of heaven dictate the outcomes on earth. We don't need a different election outcome. We need a change in the spiritual hearts of God's people so heaven will unleash something that makes an outcome in the earth that's different. Chapter 7, "I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on land or on the sea or on any tree".
Now, we just read about the horsemen of the Apocalypse, and they had the ability to bring death to the earth. And now we're told that there are angels that have the ability to impact the weather on the earth. Do you believe that? Do you believe spiritual forces impact the weather? Do you really? Now, it's so easy to take that and say, "Well, you know, if that's the case, I'm gonna pray that it's always sunny when I have a picnic or that, when the kids are playing ball, there will be a breeze". And I don't think we're being given permission just to become more selfish, but I do believe we're being given permission to imagine that spiritual forces have an impact and a power and influence beyond anything we've imagined. I mean, there are some very powerful forces working very diligently, trying to convince us that we are changing the climate.
My goal in this session is not to step into that, but it is to suggest to you that the Bible very plainly tells us that spiritual things impact the weather. And we won't turn there, but in Matthew chapter 8, Jesus is caught in a storm with the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, and they think they're going to drown because of the severity of the storm. Remember the story? They wake Jesus up. He's so panicked, he's sleeping. The fishermen are panicked. The carpenter is sleeping in the boat, so they wake him up, and he acts like a carpenter. He stands up in the boat, but then he speaks to the wind and the waves, and they obey him, and it completely blows the minds of his disciples. "Who is this, that even the wind and the waves obey him"?
Well, Jesus has seen heaven. He understands the kingdom of God. We're the outsiders. We're the interlopers. We're limited by our five physical senses, and we haven't spent much time thinking about it. God will move heaven and earth for his purposes. He can part a sea. He can scatter manna across the floor of the desert to feed hundreds of thousands of people. He can bring water out of a rock. He doesn't have our limits. He knows when a sparrow falls to the ground. He knows how many hairs you lost today. Awkward. He's not like us. We need to think about that more, then we'll be far more willing to worship him. We'd be more willing to kneel in his presence and say, "Oh, absolutely, I would like to kneel and pray to you, without any question. I don't care who sees me kneeling. I'm about to address the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He can stop the wind. He can bring rain. He will live forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever".
How old are you? He's not like us, but his sevenfold Spirit lives within me, and he helps me that I'm workin', I'm really making an effort to understand him better because I wanna lead a more Spirit-led life than I do a carnally led life. It's not that I wanna stop using my brain or turn off my senses. God has given us all of those tools, but I wanna allow the Spirit of God in me to take a more prominent place. So, when I get back over to Corinthians, as I start lookin' at this stuff, I go, "Yeah, I'm in for that". That sounds just like an hors d'oeuvre of what I read in Revelation. I'm stayin' right on track. Can you tell? Just, right there.
Verse 9, "And 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 in front of the Lamb, and they were wearing 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.' And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell down on their faces before the throne, and they worshiped God, saying, 'Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever, amen.'"
Now, I started a list with you in the previous session of just some, to me, just the simple principles that are come from Revelation, and I'll walk back through 'em really quickly. Our time's about done. It talks about the choice of repentance. One of the messages in the early, to one of those churches was "I've told you to repent, and you haven't, so now judgment's coming". Repentance is a choice, and it's a choice that is presented to us as an expression of grace, and God's grace is not infinite. So when you sense the Spirit of God giving you an invitation, prompting you, cooperate with him. Cooperate with him. We have been proud of being skeptical, and that is not a helpful attitude to embrace.
Secondly, it's abundantly clear that there are different realms or dimensions of existence. We tend to think in terms of the visible and the invisible, but that's not just the spiritual and the physical. We have a world that we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears and touch with our hands, that's a part of this material world that's on a countdown clock. I took courses in microbiology. I worked in a microbiology lab for a bit. There's a whole invisible world around us. We spent a year locked down because of a virus that was released in Wuhan, China, and we act like we understand exactly how a virus could get from Wuhan, China, to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Little invisible rascal. And a bandana across your face has no impact on a virus. Different realms and dimensions of existence, visible and invisible. Life under the water and life in the atmosphere, two very different realms of existence.
Well, in the same way, the Bible very clearly invites us into this imagination that there's a physical, material world in which we live that God created. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". It doesn't tell us where God came from. It just says, in the beginning, he was already there, but we get some pictures and some windows and some expressions of what his kingdom is like. The purpose of this book is not to tell us everything there is to know about God. The purpose of this book is to tell us, if we would like to, how we could have a relationship with him and participate in his eternal kingdom. Don't make it into something it isn't, but squeeze all the juice out of what it is.
Thirdly, in Revelation, we see that spiritual power or spiritual force is behind all creation. He created everything in heaven and earth and under the earth. So perhaps we wanna participate more with that authority, when it's made available to us. I'm not diminishing what you can do with your strength or your intellect or what we can do collectively. There are some significant things we can do, but they are nothing to compare with what God can do. And do you believe in the doctors or prayer? Yes. Do you believe in mechanics or prayer? Uh-huh. Do you believe in hard work or the blessings of God? Yup. We create these false dichotomies that are not helpful.
Number four, a part of what I see when I stand in the throne room of heaven is that our prayers have a place in heaven. They're retained. They're offered up before the Lord as incense. You and I can do something in time on earth that makes its way to the throne of the Creator of heaven and earth. Maybe we should learn more about that, just maybe.
Number five, the activity of heaven in that spiritual realm very clearly impacts events upon the earth, so don't give your heart and your thoughts to all the conspiracy theories from the news and the internet. Give your heart and your thoughts and your voice to the kingdom of God. That will ultimately impact what happens on the earth more than who's in the White House. I'm not suggesting that our elected officials aren't important. I'm suggesting there's a greater authority. I don't believe fair elections are going to come from the hearts of broken people. I think fair elections will come as an expression of the grace and mercy of God. So let's talk to heaven about that.
Number six, we read it in chapter 6, that God will judge. One of the questions that the people that we see in heaven, there were people there, men and women in heaven, and one of the questions they put to the Lord in chapter 6, in verse 10, was "How long, Sovereign Lord, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth"? So part of what we learn while we're looking around this throne room of God isn't just that it's amazing but that God is going to judge the living and the dead. Now, that's not a threat. Judgment can be in your favor. Did you ever watch "The People's Court"? The judge never ruled against anyone. They always ruled in favor of someone, the defendant or the plaintiff, and you wanna live your life in such a way that God's judgment to you brings his blessings to you, where he says, "Come join me in my kingdom," but he will judge the earth.
The greatest authority and power in the earth comes from heaven. I'm not denying military power or economic power or political power or the power of a mob. Those are all legitimate expressions of power of a sort, but the greatest power that's available to a human being originates in heaven, in another dimension, in another realm, but it's available to us. Jesus said, "You could use my name. You'll do greater things than I did". And then, finally, the seventh one (and I'll close on this one) is that it's very clear in the book of Revelation that there is life or existence after our physical death that, when your body is done, you're not. So you want a life plan that includes your existence beyond the countdown clock of your physical body.
Now, yes, at some point, we get a resurrected body, and that's another discussion, but in the interim, by the time you get your resurrected body, all the decisions will have been made. The die for your future will have been cast. That's why Jesus told all these parables about the waiting for the bridegroom to come and those that were prepared and those that weren't and the door being locked, or people being invited to the wedding feast, and they showed up unprepared, and they were cast into outer darkness. And, I mean, it's not like a subtle theme of Jesus's teaching. Be prepared. Be prepared.
The spiritual world is real, and we live in time with the limits that come with our physical body. It's presented to us in Scripture as laying aside the real glory for which we were created. It's a diminished state to what is ahead of us, but the best way I know to navigate time is with a heart open to the Spirit of God, and for the most part, we've just set it aside. Can we do another study? Well, I'm an advocate for studying, but I'm also an advocate for welcoming the Spirit of God into our lives, so I brought you a prayer. I told you that honoring Jesus would attract the attention and the presence and the activity of the Holy Spirit, so I borrowed a prayer from the book of Revelation chapter 5. I put it in your notes. I wanna suggest that we read it together three times. I don't, I mean, we could've read it seven, but I thought you'd get bored.
Why don't you stand with me. The best prayers I know to pray are to pray the prayers that we find in Scripture. Can we read this together? We'll read it three times, okay?
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise. To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever, amen. Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise. To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever, amen. Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain... To Him who sits on the throne... Amen, hallelujah. God bless you.