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Jack Graham - Thunderstruck


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    Jack Graham - Thunderstruck
TOPICS: All Things New, Book of Revelation, End times

Have you ever been thunderstruck? In the dictionary thunderstruck is to be affected with sudden astonishment, to be astounded, to be confounded, to be amazed. Now, you know, when Deb met me, she was thunderstruck, and you can take that a lot of different ways, I promise you! So maybe when you met your mate you were thunderstruck. I hope you still are today. But to be astonished, to be amazed with just this sudden astonishment. It can mean consternation and to be confounded and astounded. Well, that's the mood and mentality that we find in Revelation chapter 10. From time to time in the Revelation there are some timeouts, some pauses, some interludes, an intermission, if you will, so that we can reflect, so that we can rest just a bit from these breath-taking scenes, and to realize that God is sovereign.

When it seems that all hell is breaking loose and everything is coming apart, God is still in control. All of this evil on earth and all of this judgment that is taking place; it's not out of control but under His control. So while there are times when we are thunderstruck in amazement; astounded as to what we are seeing, like the Apostle John, we sit back for just a moment and we realize why it's all happening. And that is what this text is about. Beginning in verse 1 of chapter 10: "Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and he called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded".

And my parenthesis: John was thunderstruck. "And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven, saying, 'Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.' And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay".

First, I want you to take note of this mighty angel that appears. This mighty angel is a One and only! This powerful presence is not an angel, but the Angel of the Lord who is the Lord Jesus Himself! Throughout the Old Testament the Lord would often appear. The theological term is a theophany, an appearance of God. God would appear. He would be incarnate for a time, for a moment to speak to someone, to be, for example, the fourth person in the fiery furnace: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and one standing like unto the Son of Man; the angel of the Lord who wrestled with Jacob, and so on. The Angel of the Lord would show up, God would show up, he appeared as an Angel.

So it's not unusual that John would describe someone as majestic and powerful and holy as God Himself as this Angel. This is the One and only Jesus Himself! This mighty Angel, the One who is risen and who's coming again! And when He comes again, the first thing He's going to do is to take command of His creation, and dominion over all of the earth. Why? Because it belongs to Him. The sun, the skies, the seas, everything belongs to Him. And when He straddles the seas and the land, it's a picture really of a Roman conqueror. John would have been familiar with the Roman war machine rolling across the world at that time, taking land after land, and people in country after country. And a general of Roman, a conqueror would often put his foot in the sea and his foot on the sand or on the earth and declare his dominion and the power and authority of Rome.

And so when Jesus steps on the earth and on the sea, when He straddles it all like this great colossus, it is God's way of showing us that He is in command and in control of the creation that He has made. Jesus is the Christ of the cosmos. Paul said in Colossians 1:16: "For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through Him and for Him, and He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together". By Him all things consist or hold together. You thought gravity held everything together? No, God holds everything together! Held together by His mighty hands! Maybe in science class you remember back, you read about the exact tilt of the earth and the distance the earth is from the moon and the sun, and how if it was just a little bit different we would either freeze to death or there would be fire to ignite the whole planet.

And yet God in His perfection, in the creation of this world, tilted everything just right and made everything just right and separated everything just right, because He holds all things together! And if God wants to send judgment all He has to do is take His hand off what He has created! But by Him all things hold together. If you ever wonder why aren't things working out in my life? Why do things seem to always be spinning out of control? Why is my marriage falling apart? Why is my life falling apart? Could it be that you're not allowing Him to hold your life together, your marriage together, your home together, your family together, your career?

You think, "Man, my career! I just can't get it together"! Give your life to Jesus Christ. Give Him the center of your heart and your life, the control of your heart and your life. By Him everything holds together including your life! Creation is a demonstration of the power and the glory of God. Now the unbeliever says that man is an accidental byproduct of nature! That we are the result of a theory called evolution. Evolution is taught as a fact in many universities and many schools, when in fact the evidence is just not there! You know, evolution says nothing times nobody equals everything! But when you reject God as Creator, you have to come up with some idea as to how we all got here.

The very first words of the Bible: "In the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth"! You cut that out, you don't believe that, then you've got to come up with something rational or reasonable as to how we all got here! Now if man is just a naked ape, if we are an upwardly evolving animal or mammal, then we will live like animals! And animals live for three purposes: self-preservation, self-multiplication, and self-gratification. Is there any wonder if we start teaching kids that they're only animals and come from animals that they start acting like animals?

Fact is, when you reject God the Creator, Christ the Creator, evolution ultimately becomes your excuse to live any way you choose without God. Jesus spoke of an evil heart of unbelievers. It's not a head problem; it's a heart problem! The problem of unbelief! But God makes it very clear in the beginning and the end of The Book! "I'm large and in charge! This is My creation! I created you for Me and for this creation"! And we worship the God who will one day take dominion and power and glory permanently, fully and forever, over His creation. Yes, this might Angel is Jesus our Lord. If you ever get lost in the book of Revelation, can't find your way, or in the Bible, as far as that goes, look for Jesus! Because the Revelation is about Jesus!

Secondly, I want you to see a mysterious secret. The time for the seventh trumpet to sound is about to take place. This next judgment is about to go forward, but before that God says, beginning in verse 4; let's backup to verse 4 again. "When the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven". Johns getting ready to write all this down. These seven thunders. He was thunderstruck. He's ready to go. But God said "Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down". He'd been writing down all the rest, thus we have the book of Revelation. But now He says, "Don't write this down". "And the Angel", verse 5, "whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven", and as noted before he swore by Himself "the one who lives forever and ever". And he says, look at the end of verse 6, "that there would be no more delay".

If you're marking your Bible, I hope you are, put an exclamation point there. "No more delay"! But that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. What is this? The time has come for more judgment, and in this judgment the mystery of history is about to be fulfilled. You say what? What is the mystery of history? It is the mystery of suffering, of sin. What Paul called in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 7, "the mystery of lawlessness, or the mystery of iniquity". What is about to be resolved is this mystery that evil exists. Why does evil exist? Why all of this suffering? Dear God, when will Your kingdom ever come? When will you put an end to all of this?

For thousands of years, for millenniums sin and the consequences of sin have reigned and ruled over God's creation. The curse! In that all creation (Romans 8) groans. There is pain, there is sorrow. Sin and sorrow and suffering devastates lives to this very day! Dr. W. A. Criswell, one of my heroes in ministry, wrote this: "The pages of history from the time of the first murder until this present hour are written in blood, tears and death". I hear it as a pastor weekly. No, not weekly, daily! Another death, more tragedy, heartbreak, suffering, pain, evil on the rise, evil on the rampage! And on an international front more wars and more terrorism, and more nukes to come. And more persecution of Christians, and pain and suffering to believers. When will this end? Because it appears that Satan is winning this battle of the ages. He's winning again and again.

And now infidels and the immoral, the atheists and the agnostics, the bullies pummel us with accusations and charges of hate because of our faith in a Judeo-Christian ethic! What we believe and how we behave is under attack by the Liberal Left in America! And now by corporate America who is compromised and abandoning moral principles for the sake of their cash flow! That's America today! We need prayer! We need revival! But the point is sin continues to darken the moral landscape of America!

Psalms 11:3, "And if the foundations be destroyed what will the righteous do"! But one day when Jesus comes at His revelation, He came as man in His incarnation; He's coming as God and Savior in His revelation when He comes again. And He's going to raise up His right hand and say what He says right here: "Enough! It's over! Time out! No more delay"! And just when you think the enemy of Satan is winning, don't put a "w" in his column yet because it ain't over till it's over. And it's not over until Jesus comes again. And hell itself will not prevail against the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. And when He comes this resolving of this mystery of iniquity, this sin will take place. It's over! Evil will be judged and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and He shall reign and rule forever and ever!

One final thing, a magnificent book we see here. A mighty angel, a mysterious secret and magnificent book. Look at verse 8, "Then the voice that I heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, 'Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.' So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll", it's a little book, a little scroll, "and he said to me, 'Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.' And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter". This is a severe case of heavenly heartburn. "And I was told, 'You must again prophesy about many people and nations and languages and kings.'"

What is this about? The Lord hands John a little book, a little scroll actually and commands him to eat it. And when he does it tastes so sweet, it tastes so good going down. But then when it hits the stomach it turns bitter. So the scroll is bittersweet. It is the first sweet and sour scroll, if you will. John eats this book and this book is the prophetic word, the prophetic scriptures. So in effect, it's the same word for Bible. It represents the Bible and the message of the Bible in my view. And when you eat the Bible, we're told to ingest and digest the Bible. Eat the Word of God because the Bible is described, the Scriptures are described as spiritual food and nourishment.

Jesus said when confronting the devil in the wilderness, "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God". But when you eat the Word of God there is both the sweet and the sour. To an unbeliever, Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:16, "The Word of God is a fragrance from death to death, and a fragrance from life to life". A savor is another way of putting it of "death unto death and life unto life". In other words, the Word of God speaks words of death; it speaks words of life. It speaks words of heaven; it speaks words of hell. It is a bitter-sweet Book. There is both grace and truth; there is both sin and salvation; there is eternal life and eternal judgment.

It's all there if you're preaching and teaching and understanding the whole counsel of God! And if you can sit and listen to me preach week after week after week after week and you are in unrepentant sin and you can still go out of here feeling good, I'm doing it wrong! Because when you preach and teach the Word of God there's conviction as well as encouragement. It's a bitter-sweet Book. And so when John eats the Word, he's now filled with the Word. We are to assimilate. Here's the fact I want you to take home with you. We are to assimilate the Word of God into our lives.

Years ago as a young Christian I wrote this down. I'm going to share it with you today. How to assimilate God's Word in your life. Here's your "take home"; here's your homework: When you take the Bible, number one, read it through. Did you know that only 15 percent of Americans say they read the Bible every day? Most people read their phones every day. Most people read the Internet every day. Most people read whatever they read every day, but only 15 percent of people read the Bible every day. And you know the number one reason people say I don't read the Bible? Too busy. You're not too busy, Christian, for the Bible!

So you need to get a plan so that you are strategically and systematically reading through the Scriptures. And there are many plans. There's an app for that, too, by the way. Youversion of the Bible, you can get Youversion and I recommend it all the time, just right on your phone, your tablet, your handheld device. You can have the Scripture there in front of you. I enjoy having my Bible in my quiet time. I like to mark my Bible as I tell you in a moment. But how ever you get the Word of God and begin reading it through. Mama said you are what you eat! How do you expect God to change your life if you don't spiritually nourish your life in the Word of God?

The Bible is life altering, life changing! Read it through, then think it clear, which means, when I'm reading the scripture I'm often asking questions. "Okay, what's that saying"? "What that saying then, and what is it saying to me"? I ask questions like: "Is there some promise here that I need to claim"? And I often mark those promises. "Is there some command here that I am to keep"? "Is there some temptation or sin here that I am to avoid"? "Is there some wisdom here that I am to assimilate"? And so on. Read it through and then think it clear! Did you know if you're worrying about losing some brain cells, one of the best things you can do to recover your brain is to memorize, mark the Word of God! Ingest the Word of God into your mind! Fill your mind with the Word of the living God! And then, write it down! Keep a journal. Mark your Bible. Underline it.

You say, "Can you mark on your Bible"? Sure, you can! I've got Bibles through the years that are like spiritual journals in my life that I've marked up and taken notes. Write it down! I would encourage you when you hear God's Word taught that you take notes. To this day, if someone else is preaching, I'm taking notes. I'm writing things down. As God is speaking to me, I want to know what God is saying and I want to keep growing and getting stronger in my faith! So write it down! And then pray it in! That means memorize it, ingest it, take it in and then pray it in by turning scripture into prayer, turning God's promises into prayer. And then live it out. Because we're to be not only hears of the Word but doers of the Word. Some of us have been in Bible study, Bible study, Bible study, Bible study, Bible study, Bible study but we're not yet disciples.

We're not doing it! Get in the Word of God for the purpose of letting God change your life! Discipleship and disciple-making! And then finally, pass it on because it's too good to keep. You hear something good, read something good in God's Word, share it with a friend. Make it a part of your witness to people around you who need the Lord Jesus Christ. Prepare yourself in the Scriptures so that you will be able to speak a word that is necessary in a time that is necessary. In other words, assimilate the Word of God and then communicate the Word of God. So the last verse of chapter 10 tells us that we're to take this word and tell it to the nations, and to kings and authorities everywhere; to the nations and to our neighbors. That is our mission as we take this magnificent message, the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus to the ends of the earth.
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