THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST

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THE PROGRAM OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE FUTURE 4:1-22:21

(The things which will take place after this)

The Scene in Heaven 4:1-5:14

View of the Heavenly Majesty 4:1-11

The Throne 4:1-3

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this."- Revelation 4:1

This is the beginning of the third-and longest-portion of Revelation. Jesus had referred to these three divisions in Chapter 1:

Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. - Revelation 1:19

The first division of the book is "the things which you have seen." This referred to the vision of THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST in Chapter 1. The second division is about "the things which are." This was the prophecy and history about the Church-THE PRESENCE OF JESUS CHRIST IN THIS AGE in Chapters 2 and 3. Now the third part of the vision," the things which will take place after this," describes THE PROGRAM OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE FUTURE, from Chapter 4 to the end of the book.

The first words of Revelation 4:1 are "After these things." The Greek expression is meta tauta," the very same words used in Revelation 1:19, and translated "after this."

The sequence is of great importance. This is emphasized by the use of this Greek expression meta tauta at both the beginning and the end of this verse. The occurrence at the end of the verse is translated "after this."

From this point on, the vision relates to the time beyond the church age. This first scene is in heaven, and it takes place at the beginning of the Tribulation period on earth. You will notice that many future events are described in prophecies as if they were happening at that moment. This is a common use of biblical languages. Consider Isaiah's prophecy about the coming Messiah:

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder. . .- Isaiah 9:6

Sometimes prophetic visions are even described in the past tense, like this preview of the crucifixion:

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. - Isaiah 53:4-5

This literary device is known as the "prophetic perfect tense." In his classic book, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, E. W. Bullinger explained this usage. He called it "the past for the future," and said this method is used,

"...when the speaker views the action as being as good as done. This is very common in the Divine prophetic utterances where, though the sense is literally future, it is regarded and spoken of as though it were already accomplished in the Divine purpose and determination. The figure is to show the absolute certainty of the things spoken of." (E.W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible: Explained and Illustrated, accessed June 4, 2014,
https://archive.org/stream/cu31924029277047#page/n573/mode/2up/search/518,
Gleaned from "The Prophetic Perfect,"
accessed June 4, 2014,
http://www.truthortradition.com/articles/the-prophetic-perfect)

"I looked," is the translation of the Greek word eido, the normal word meaning "to see or discern." Its usual connotation is to see with one's eyes, and then know, or understand with one's mind. This is especially true in the case of a vision such as this, where the Apostle John not only saw certain images, but must have assumed that that there was special significance to what he saw.

John implored the reader not only to read or hear this prophecy, but to understand it as well. Behold comes from the Greek word idou, meaning "to look, consider, or understand." One lexicon explains that it is akin to the expression "I see what you mean." (Bible Hub: Strong's 1492, http://biblehub.com/greek/1492.htm, last accessed 3/26/14) It is used frequently in Revelation, and was employed seven times in the first three chapters, where it was sometimes translated "behold," and sometimes, "indeed."

John saw a door standing open in heaven. In Revelation 3:8 the Lord had promised an "open door" of opportunity for missionary work. It symbolized the privilege of taking the Gospel to other people. It was a situation that was not caused by human effort, and could not be terminated without God's permission.

In this verse the open door has a different meaning. It is not an opening to foreign lands, but to Heaven itself. It at least symbolizes a glimpse into God's majestic throne-room, but in consideration of the redeemed humans seen there, it is also a door of entry for believers to pass from Earth into the presence of the Lord!

This calls to mind Our Lord's promise in John Chapter 14:

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. - John 14:1-3

The "blessed hope" of the believer is the return of Christ (Titus 2:13).

The Lord's return will be in two phases:

First, Jesus will return to end the Church Age by taking believers to be where He is:

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore comfort one another with these words. - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Later, after the Tribulation Period, Jesus will come as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to establish His Kingdom here on Earth.

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. - Revelation 1:7
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS. - Revelation 19:11-16

The first aspect of Our Lord's second coming is known as the Rapture of the church, and the second event is called His Glorious Return. For more information about this subject See Appendix C - The Rapture.

John said, "And the first voice which I heard ..." At the very beginning of Revelation he mentioned first, the voice of an angel sent by Jesus (Revelation 1:1), and then the voice of the Lord Himself (Revelation 1:8-13). Throughout the book he mentions many voices, often from various angels. The Greek word used is phone, which may be translated "sound or voice" as the context requires. . In this case the voice is described as a trumpet speaking with me. (See the earlier notes on Chapter 1, verse 10). It is logical to assume this startling sound is the voice of the Lord Jesus, since that was the case in Chapter One.

The Greek word for trumpet is salpiggos, or "war horn," understood by the original readers of the New Testament to be a shofar, or ram's horn. It would be a loud, piercing call to action.

This is another indication that this portion of the Revelation refers to the Rapture. In 1 Thessalonians 1:16, which was quoted above to predict the removal of the Church. It specified that Christ will "descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.

Some commentators think that this sounding of a trumpet places the Rapture at the end of the Tribulation because they equate it with the seventh and last Trumpet Judgment in Revelation 11:15-19. This is awkward for them because this passage in Revelation describes the transition from the Battle of Armageddon to the beginning of the Kingdom Age when Jesus will reign as King of Kings. It wouldn't allow for any of the things that should take place between the Rapture and the Glorious Return of Christ.

It makes more sense to equate this sound with the last trumpet call of the ceremonies during the Feast of Trumpets, which is also known as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. A typical Rosh Hashanah service includes frequent blasts of the ram's horn (at least 100 times!).
(http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Fall_Holidays/Rosh_Hashannah/rosh_hashannah.html)

The major feasts of Israel were types, or pre-figures of key aspects of Our Lord's life. Here are some of these sacred observances and their application to Jesus Christ:

Jesus was crucified during the time that faithful Jewish believers had gathered in Jerusalem to observe the Passover (Leviticus 23:5-7). Jesus, whom John the Baptist had called "the Lamb of God" (John 1:29-30) surrendered Himself to His enemies so that He could be the final sacrificial lamb, who took away the sin of the world. The "Last Supper" was actually His Passover celebration with the Disciples just before he was arrested (Luke 22:14-20).

Three days later, at the Feast of Firstfruits (Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 23:10-14; Joshua 5:10-12), Jesus was raised from the dead (Matthew 27:62-66; 28:1-10; Luke 24:7, 16; 1 Corinthians 15:4). He became the firstfruits of all who will be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

About seven weeks later, when the faithful were observing Pentecost, (Leviticus 23:15-21), the promised Holy Spirit was sent to indwell believers (Acts 2:1-12). This is the event that triggered the birth of the Church.

The next special holy day on the Jewish calendar is the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25). We can never predict the date of the Rapture (Matthew 24:42-44), but it certainly can be symbolized by the sounding of the shofar on this holy day. Maybe the "catching up" of Christians will actually occur during one of these feasts. If not, the watchful, repentant spirit of the occasion will still be a good illustration of His return for His church.

The voice that sounded like a trumpet told John, "Come up here." This is yet another picture of the Rapture - being caught up to be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The same expression is used in Revelation 11:12 where the Two Witnesses hear a loud voice saying "Come up here." They will be raised from the dead and will ascend into heaven in a cloud.

John was not physically taken to Heaven. When this vision was finished he was still on the Island of Patmos where he wrote what he had seen. However, since the whole book of Revelation is a prophecy of the future, his removal to the heavenly throne-room is prophetic of the Rapture, and it is placed just before the beginning of the Tribulation!

There are many other reasons for believing that the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation begins. This view is known as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture (or "Pre-Trib Rapture"). Some of these are listed in Appendix C - The Rapture. One of those arguments is most pertinent at this point in this commentary. It is the fact that, in the book of Revelation, the Church is absent during the Tribulation. In the first three chapters of the book the church is mentioned 19 times. That is not surprising since this first portion is all about the Church in prophecy and history. However, starting with Chapter 4, and going through the whole preview of the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation, and the Battle of Armageddon in Chapter 19, the word for "church" is not found once!

The logical reason for this is that the Church Age has ended, and all true Christians have been removed from the Earth. People who are Christian in name only, but who have not accepted Christ personally may continue to attend liberal churches, but their organizations are not called "churches" in Revelation, and they will ultimately join the one-world religion that forms during that time (Revelation 17) and helps empower the evil world dictator (the "Beast"). Of course, there will undoubtedly be many during the Tribulation who do accept Christ, but because of their faith they will not be willing to receive the "Mark of the Beast" (Revelation 13:11-18), and will either be killed or driven underground. Therefore, the church as we know it will not exist during the Tribulation.

Jesus' voice continued to instruct John. He said, "and I will show you things which must take place after this." The word translated "must" is the Greek dei, which means "it is necessary." It is often used in the New Testament to show that divine prophecies will certainly be fulfilled literally (Matthew 16:21; 17:10; 24:6; Mark 8:31; 9:11; 13:7, 10; Luke 9:22; 17:25; John 20:9; Acts 1:16, etc.). This gives us great confidence in the Bible. No other source of prophecy can legitimately claim that all of its predictions must be fulfilled!


Next: Revelation 4:2


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