RETURN OF CHRIST

Rev. 19:11.12 – 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.

This is another example of the amazing contrast between Christ in His humility as a man and His display of His glory as the Son of God. This triumphant scene, Christ coming to reign in Jerusalem riding on His white horse, accompanied by His enormous army, stirs the memories of that last grand entrance Christ made into Jerusalem The last time He was riding on a donkey, His glory concealed in His humanity. This time He comes in full demonstration of His power and glory. Every eye will see Him and His enemies will be instantly destroyed at His appearing. In that moment of time the kingdoms of this world will be destroyed, the Kingdom of our Lord will begin to reign on this earth. Here is how Tim Lahaye describes this passage.

“The present rider, with eyes “like blazing fire,” can be none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. The significance of the white horse is typical of the difference between this coming and Christ’s first coming. While on this earth our Lord fulfilled Zechariah 9:9, entering Jerusalem on a lowly beast of burden. Now His humiliation is done away and He will come in glory, properly using the white horse to depict His power and glory….“Faithful and True” presents our Lord as a contrast to the unfaithful deceivers of humankind, Antichrist and Satan. Our Lord has faithfully fulfilled all of His prophecies. “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years” (2 Pet. 3:8) suggests that a promise of God given a thousand years ago is as though it were given yesterday.”

I love the fact that Jesus is called Faithful and True. Every word of His promise will be carried out. Today, the spirit of the world, the spirit of antichrist, is desperately trying to hinder the coming of the kingdom of God. As Paul said, the kingdom does not come in words only, but it comes in the demonstration of power and signs and wonders. If the Lord is really Faithful and True, then we are about to experience the greatest revival of all time. His coming is imminent, its time for us to engage in the battle for souls.

GOD’S ARMY

Rev. 19:13,14 – He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.

I often remember those early days after my conversion. My wife, Parris, and I went to California and joined a ministry called God’s Army. That’s exactly what is was for me. I often called it God’s boot camp because that is exactly what I needed in those days. I clearly remember the day when I met the director, Robert Forester. He is a gentle giant of a man who we all fondly called “Big Bob”. I first met Big Bob when he knocked on the door of the camper Parris and I were living in. He introduced himself and asked if I had a job yet. I said no and he quickly replied, “If you get a haircut you might get a job”. Actually that was a huge moment in my life. We all know hair means nothing but it meant something to me. It represented my image and the rebellious life I had been living. Thankfully I recognized the authority of Christ in Big Bob and Parris cut my hair that afternoon. I had joined God’s Army. In today’s verse we see this glorious army of God returning with our leader, the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is Tim Lahaye’s description of this scene.

“The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean”. The armies of heaven consist of the angelic hosts, the Old Testament saints, the Church, and the Tribulation saints. The most significant truth, however, is the garb of this army. They are “dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” Military men are issued fatigue uniforms for battle dress, not only for camouflage but also because war is so dirty that light-colored clothes would be severely soiled. Here, however, the Commander-in-Chief of the heavenly forces clothes His army in white, a practice unheard of in the history of warfare. The reason should not be overlooked by the reader: No member of the armies of Christ that come with Him in His Glorious Appearing will do battle. Not one of us will lift a finger, for the battle will be consummated by the spoken word of our Lord.”

Do you have your army clothes on? You know, that white and clean linen. You put it on by believing in Christ. When you surrender to him, you too will be ready for the army of the Lord.

PROSTITUTE OR BRIDE

Rev. 17:1,2- Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.

I think Jesus was more offended by the religious world in His world than the sinners that He often ministered to. He actually called the leading religious teachers of His day white washed sepulchers full of dead men’s bones. The religious world of His time is still with us now. You don’t find this false church in one particular church or denomination or one particular religion. What John called “the Great Harlot” is found in all the of religious world. It appears as the end gets closer that there will be an intentional organization of all churches and religions into some form of a one world church. The only religious group not included will be those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and are actually born again followers of Christ. If you are following the Lord today, building your life on the scripture and actually having a relationship with the Lord through the power of the Spirit, you will find yourself more and more alienated from the mainstream of our society. The spirit of antichrist is at work in the world, especially the religious world that rejects the power of His presence. Here is a description of the Great Harlot from the Fire Bible.

“The prostitute represents religious “Babylon” and encompasses all false religions, including unfaithful and rebellious forms of Christianity. In the Bible, terms and images of prostitution and adultery are often used as figures of speech referring to unfaithfulness to God through idolatry or any form of rebellion against him. This description is particularly relevant to those who pretend to serve God while actually worshiping and serving other gods. Note the sharp contrast between the great prostitute and the bride of Christ. The prostitute is submitted to Satan; the bride is submitted to Christ. Satan clothes the one in glittering excess to conceal her true filthiness; God clothes the other in brilliant cleanliness to reveal her true purity.“

Christ is preparing His bride, His church, for His soon return. We have to be clothed with the wedding garment (the righteousness of Christ by faith in His blood) and have our lamps filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit. Get ready, the wedding celebration is bout to begin.

JOHN’S FINAL PROPHESY

Rev. 10:10,11 ¶ Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings”.

Without spiritual discernment living in our day we seem to just bump along in life embracing political and religious opinions that suit our taste or lifestyle. Today’s verse is quite disturbing given to John just before the final trumpet of the seven trumpets is sounded in his vision of the seven trumpets of judgement. In this verse John is commanded to eat the scroll in the angel’s hand that apparently fills John with prophetic revelation about the final chapter of the Great Tribulation. John will proceed to unmask Satan, the political system running the world, and the religious system which holds much of the population under its control. His words are quite disturbing to say the least. Many folks in today’s world are just swallowing the political, economic, and even religious rhetoric that is being spewed out on a daily basis. John reveals that it is all under the influence of the spirit of antichrist that is dominating the systems of the world. John’s prophesy over the final chapters of Revelation literally rips the masks off of the impersonators dominating the economic, political, and religious systems of our world. Here is how Robert H. Mounce describes it.

“There is a sense of divine compulsion in the charge given to John. He must prophesy again. The prophesy relates to many peoples and nations. It is the final act in the great drama of God’s creative and redemptive activity. The meaning of history comes into sharp focus at the end point in time. John’s mission is to lay bare the forces of the supernatural world at work behind the activities of people and nations. His prophesy is the culmination of all previous prophesies in that it leads on to the final destruction of evil and the inauguration of the eternal state.”

Those of us alive today have been chosen by the Lord to live at the precipice of the collision of these two worlds, the world of man dominated by the spirit of the world or antichrist and the coming kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. I would encourage you to read the book of Revelation and then read it again, you may be surprised as the prophetic words of John rip the mask off of things that may be having sway in your life.

THEY OVERCAME THE DEVIL

Rev. 12:11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

This passage of scripture is taken from the book of Revelation during the peak of demonic onslaught during the Great Tribulation. John is painting the picture of Satan as being desperate and defeated in his last days before he is locked up in hell at the coming of Jesus Christ. His defeat is certain and he is trying to inflict as much damage as possible upon the followers of Christ during this dark season. John gives the solution to the dilemma that the church was facing. It was the same one he had practiced throughout his life and is God’s word for us as we too face a heightened attack in these last days. He simply said that the devil is overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. Here is how the Fire Bible describes this conflict.

“Faithful followers of Christ on earth have access to an effective strategy for overcoming Satan’s schemes and accusations. It is not a matter of their own power, ability or efforts; it has everything to do with what Christ has already done and the victory he has already won for them. Christ’s followers are freed from Satan’s power by the blood of the Lamb—the personal sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave his life to pay the price for sin so that those who entrust their lives to him could be forgiven, restored to a personal relationship with God and have the assurance of eternal life with him. Christ’s death and resurrection are the greatest defeats of Satan and guarantee ultimate victory for those who are faithful to God. By determining to speak for Christ and by showing a willingness to serve him at any cost, Christians disarm the devil from being able to rob them of faith, even during the most difficult times of persecution and tribulation.”

What is the significance of the blood of Jesus in relation to demonic attack? The only basis for successful demonic attack against us is the sin we have committed, it gives access to our lives. As we stand in faith, knowing our sins are purged by the blood of Jesus, the devil has no grounds to defeat us. We enforce this truth by our declaration of victory in the Name of Jesus. So we too can say with John and the believers during the Great Tribulation, “we overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony”.

THEY OVERCAME THE DEVIL

Rev. 12:11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

This passage of scripture is taken from the book of Revelation during the peak of demonic onslaught during the Great Tribulation. John is painting the picture of Satan as being desperate and defeated in his last days before he is locked up in hell at the coming of Jesus Christ. His defeat is certain and he is trying to inflict as much damage as possible upon the followers of Christ during this dark season. John gives the solution to the dilemma that the church was facing. It was the same one he had practiced throughout his life and is God’s word for us as we too face a heightened attack in these last days. He simply said that the devil is overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. Here is how the Fire Bible describes this conflict.

“Faithful followers of Christ on earth have access to an effective strategy for overcoming Satan’s schemes and accusations. It is not a matter of their own power, ability or efforts; it has everything to do with what Christ has already done and the victory he has already won for them. Christ’s followers are freed from Satan’s power by the blood of the Lamb—the personal sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave his life to pay the price for sin so that those who entrust their lives to him could be forgiven, restored to a personal relationship with God and have the assurance of eternal life with him. Christ’s death and resurrection are the greatest defeats of Satan and guarantee ultimate victory for those who are faithful to God. By determining to speak for Christ and by showing a willingness to serve him at any cost, Christians disarm the devil from being able to rob them of faith, even during the most difficult times of persecution and tribulation.”

What is the significance of the blood of Jesus in relation to demonic attack? The only basis for successful demonic attack against us is the sin we have committed, it gives access to our lives. As we stand in faith, knowing our sins are purged by the blood of Jesus, the devil has no grounds to defeat us. We enforce this truth by our declaration of victory in the Name of Jesus. So we too can say with John and the believers during the Great Tribulation, “we overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony”.

THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Matt.24:4-8 – And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”

Back in the 1970’s during the Jesus movement and the charismatic renewal topics relating to the last days seemed to just hang in the air. Everyone was talking about the rapture, the great tribulation, the antichrist, the mark of the beast, and the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem. Today, that topic has fallen off of everyone’s radar. Today, you are more likely to hear a message on how to be a better you or some sort of motivational message. It’s funny how much modern culture seems to control the message from the pulpits in our nation.

The Great Tribulation is something clearly taught in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Jesus described these last days in great detail in one of His last messages the week He was crucified. He predicted the destruction of Jerusalem as well as the season of the church He called the age of the gentiles. He also spoke of a temple being present in the last generation and it being desecrated by the antichrist. His words lead us to the conclusion that Israel would clearly be involved in the events of the last days. Here are some thoughts from the Fire Bible on the Great Tribulation.

“Jesus speaks about unique signs that will occur during the end-time period. This is the time often called the “tribulation” —the phrase in Greek is the same. The signs that occur will be warnings that the end of this present age is very near. These signs will lead up to and signal Christ’s physical return to earth after the tribulation. At Christ’s return, he will destroy the forces of the antichrist and evil, and he will establish an earthly reign of peace for the last thousand years of time as we know it.”

So why does it matter what we believe about the last days? The Bible teaches us to live ready for Christ’s return. If all we think about is our life here on earth we may have to check our priorities. Focusing on the last days seems to help me sort out what really matters in life.

THE SCROLL

Rev.5:1 – And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.

The opening of this scroll lies at the very center of God’s purposes and man’s eternal destiny. The words of this scroll contain the future of man and the future of this planet. This event, witnessed by John in his vision, is the culmination of all things. John has just realized one man, the Son of Man, is able to open this book. It is terrifying and exciting at the same time. In it we see the reward of the righteous and the wrath of God released on those who have rejected Christ’s kingdom.

There have been many theories put forward about what this scroll actually is. I believe it is somehow connected to the solemn agreement between the Father and the Son. In eternity, the eternal Son of God agreed to become a human to redeem our fallen race. The Father made promises to His Son about the ramifications of His eternal sacrifice. The results of Christ becoming a man, salvation to those who believe in Him and judgement and eternal suffering to those who don’t. This book seems to unlock the results of that contract. Here are some thoughts from Ellicott on this scroll.

“But what is meant by the book? Numberless interpretations have been offered: it is the Old Testament; it is the whole Bible; it is the title-deed of man’s inheritance; it is the book containing the sentence of judgment on the foes of the faith; it is the Apocalypse; it is part of the Apocalypse; it is the book of God’s purposes and providence. There is a truth underlying most of these interpretations, but most of them narrow the force of the vision. If we say it is the book which unfolds the principles of God’s government—in a wide sense, the book of salvation, the interpretation of life, which Christ alone can bestow, we shall include, probably, the practical truths which underlie each of these interpretations; for all—Old Testament and New, man’s heritage and destiny, God’s purposes and providence— are dark, till He who is the Light unfolds those truths which shed a light on all. Such a book becomes one “which contains and interprets human history,” and claims the kingdoms of the earth for God….There are things which are hidden from the wise and prudent, but revealed unto babes.”

When I read about the opening of this scroll I am filled with joyful anticipation and terror at the same time. I have to hide myself in Christ, He is the only protection from the coming storm.

VICTORY OVER THE BEAST

Rev.15:2-4 – And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God.

And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!

“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.

The Bible clearly says that His ways are not our ways. This passage displays this characteristic of the Lord with absolute precision. These worshippers were actually some of the martyrs from the Great Tribulation. These are those who died for their refusal to take the mark of the beast. The worldly view is that they lost the battle and the antichrist was victorious. That is clearly not the view we see in heaven. The martyrs are celebrating in victory before the very throne of God. Christ has rewarded their faithfulness, they are standing in the presence of the Lord in heaven, singing a song that even the angels cannot sing. They have overcome the beast and the devil by the blood of Jesus and the word of their testimony. Here are some thoughts from the Fire Bible on today’s passage.

“VICTORIOUS OVER THE BEAST. The scene changes, and John once again is able to look up into heaven around God’s throne. Standing on a crystal-like surface are those who did not abandon their faith in Christ when persecuted, threatened or killed by the antichrist . They “sang the song of Moses,” just as the Israelites had after they were liberated from slavery in Egypt, brought miraculously through the Red Sea and witnessed the destruction of the Egyptians that pursued them. Their song celebrates the Lord’s triumph and salvation.”

It’s easy for us to be effected by the spirit of the world. We often see worldly people apparently get away with all sorts of injustice with no apparent consequences. At the same time we see the righteous suffer from injustice of all kinds. The view from heaven is quite different. The Lord watches everything; the great day is coming. On that day we too can join with the victorious martyrs singing the heavenly songs of victory. How can you stay faithful in the midst of a compromising world? Get your eyes on Jesus, stay filled with His Spirit. It won’t be long until we too are singing the songs of heaven.

FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD

Rev.1:5 – and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood —

John saw a resurrected man on the beach of the Isle of Patmos. Jesus was not a vision or a spirit, He came to John bodily and physically. That in itself has huge implications. First, the Creator, God Himself, was standing in front of John as a human. God became a man for all time. He died for us and is ministering as a priest for us before the Father in heaven. Here, Jesus is saying that He was the first man to raise permanently from the dead. Several others had been raised from the dead throughout history only to die again and go back into the grave. Jesus was raised in a new incorruptible body. He was the first of an entire race who will experience this. His body is an eternal, immortal body. Someday I too will have one. Here is how Adam Clarke describes this.

“The beginning, the first-born from the dead. In 1 Corinthians xv. 20, Christ is called the first-fruits of them that slept; and here, the chief and first-born from the dead; he being the first that ever resumed the natural life, with the employment of all its functions, never more to enter the empire of death, after having died a natural death, and in such circumstances as precluded the possibility of deception. The arch, chief, head, or first, answers in this verse to the first-fruits, Jesus Christ is not only the first who rose from the dead to die no more, but he is the first-fruits of human beings; for as surely as the first-fruits were an indication and pledge of the harvest, so surely was the resurrection of Christ the proof that all mankind should have a resurrection from the dead.”

For John this could be personal. John was in exile and all of the other apostles had been martyred (or would be shortly). Jesus was telling him, as well as us, that the final and greatest enemy, death itself, had been totally defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the book of Revelation unfolds we see the final scene of the great plan of God. The dead will be raised, we will be given new bodies like His, we will be comforted by Christ, and will rule with Him for eternity.