Revelation 5-7

Sunday Evening Bible Study

May 20, 2001


In Revelation 4, John finds himself caught up into heaven before God’s throne. In a sense, he is a picture of the Rapture of the church. There in heaven he sees the things that the earthly Tabernacle and Temple were built to be models of. He sees God’s throne room.

The main characters John has seen thus far:

He sees One sitting on the throne, God the Father.
Around the throne are twenty four thrones, with twenty four elders sitting on them. I believe this is probably the leadership of Israel and the Church (twelve tribes, twelve apostles).
Also around the throne are four “beast” or “living beings”. These are angelic creatures that have six wings and four faces. These are the beings known as “cherubim”.

The scene in heaven is one of worship. The cherubim and the elders are worshipping God on His throne.

Revelation 5

Background to the chapter:

There are some subtle things happening in chapter five that we are only going to understand if we take time to do a little background work.

When God brought the nation Israel into their promised land, He gave each family an inheritance, a portion of land.

It was very important to God that each family retains their inheritance, their land. The land was never to leave the possession of its family.

But God knew that there would be instances where a family might become poor and need to sell their only possession left, their land.

Yet even in these circumstances, the sale of the land was not permanent. It could be bought back by a “redeemer”, if the redeemer was from the same family as the original owners.

(Lev 25:25 KJV) If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.

Most typically, this transaction would take place at the gates of the city, the place where the judges sat, the rulers, the ELDERS of the city.

You see a partial example of this happening in the book of Ruth where a widow named Naomi has come back to her family property along with her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth, and is looking for some financial help. The kinsman named Boaz calls the city elders together (Ruth 4), and buys the land.

In Jewish custom a deed of sale was written and sealed. A duplicate was also made, the latter remaining open so as to bear testimony to what was in the sealed copy, and to be available for records and reference. The sealed copy, however, could only be opened by the rightful owner (as identified on the open copy), and the transaction was not fully consummated until he came forward to break the seals and exhibit the official title deed and right of ownership. (Revelation Record by Henry Morris, p. 97)

You see another example of this with Jeremiah, when he was told by God to buy his uncle’s land.

(Jer 32:10-15 KJV) And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances. {11} So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open: {12} And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel mine uncle's son, and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison. {13} And I charged Baruch before them, saying, {14} Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days. {15} For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.
The title deed of the land was written on a scroll and sealed.


1. God gave each family an inheritance, and wanted the land to stay with each family

2. If a man sold his land, it was not a permanent sale, but the original owner, or a near relative could later buy back the land.

3. The transactions of redemption took place at the city gates, the place of government, before the elders of the city.


1. God gave man the earth for a possession. (Gen.1:27-28)

2. Man sold his inheritance to sin and Satan at the fall. (Matt.4:8-10; John 12:31; Rom. 6:16; 7:14)

3. We're now (Revelation 5) at the gates of the city, the government in heaven, ready for someone to buy back the earth, sold into sin.

:1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

bookbiblion – a small book, a scroll, a written document

John sees the Father with holding a scroll. The scroll had writing on both sides, John notices this as the scroll is unrolled later on.

I believe this book is the “title deed” to the earth. It’s definitely an important document, something that causes John to weep over, something that requires someone with the right qualifications to open it. As the document is opened, the process of redeeming the earth takes place, ending with the return of Jesus to rule the earth.

We’re seeing the process of redemption, where a “kinsman redeemer” is going to buy the earth back from Satan.

sealssphragis a seal; the seal placed upon books

The idea is that the scroll had some writing on it, then was rolled up a little, then a wax seal was applied, more writing was done, more rolled up, another seal, and on and on.

The breaking of these seals is the process of unrolling this document.

:2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

angel – an angel. I’m not sure we need to put a name and a face on every being mentioned. It’s just an angel, probably somebody important (“strong”)

worthy – who meets the qualifications to open the book?

This person will have to have two qualifications:

1.     They will have to be a near-kinsman, somebody related to Adam.
2.     They will have to have the ability to purchase the property. They have to have some purchasing power, someone who can buy us out of our sin.

:3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

:4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

John is totally bummed that no one is qualified to open the scroll. The idea is that no one is qualified to purchase the earth back from Satan.


Do you weep for the world?

I think that sometimes we can get a little too callous about the world around us. I wonder if we should be weeping instead.
John sees the world up to be redeemed, and nobody able to do it, and it makes him weep.
Do you weep for your unsaved friends?

:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

the Lion of the tribe of Juda – Any guesses as to who this is? It’s Jesus! (Gen 49:9-10; Isa. 11:1)

:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Jesus is a Lion that's a Lamb.

slain sphazo to slay, slaughter, butcher; to put to death by violence; mortally wounded. The verb is a perfect tense, the idea is that the slaughter has happened in the past and the results continue on into the present.

seven horns – horns in scripture tend to speak of power and authority (I Samuel 2:1; 2:10; II Samuel 22:3; Job 16:15; Psalms 18:2; 89:17; 89:24; 132:17; 148:14; Jeremiah 48:25; Lamentations 2:3; Daniel 7:8; 8:21). Jesus is seen as having complete (seven) authority and power.

:7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

fell down – It seems to me that we ought not to have a problem with the deity of Christ. The very cherubim around God's throne fall down in worship of Him.

odoursthumiama – an aromatic substance burnt, incense

vialsphiale – a broad shallow bowl, deep saucer. This is a parallel with the bowls of incense used in the Tabernacle –

Num.7:14 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense


The sweetness of prayer

The use of incense in the tabernacle and temple worship was to be a picture of prayer.
There was even a special formula to be used for the incense burnt before God.
Here, the cherubim and the elders are carrying bowls filled with incense, filled with our prayers. The idea seems that as we pray, the bowls in heaven are filled with our prayers.
It helps me to know that as I am praying, real actual things are occurring in heaven as a result of my prayers.

:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

new song – the song of the elders is “new” because this will be the first time in history that it will be sung. John is witnessing it ahead of time, but when the time in earth’s history is right, this song will be sung.

hast redeemed us – if the King James is correct here (a Byzantine Greek text), then these “elders” would seem to be human, having been redeemed.

Note: the Alexandrian Greek texts (including NIV and NAS) do not have the Greek word for “us”, and translate this “you purchased men

Jesus is the one who has “redeemed” us, He has bought us with His own blood.

:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

We already saw this back in chapter one:

(Rev 1:6 KJV) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

:11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;

ten thousandmuriades - ten thousand, a myriad.

10,000 x 10,000 = 100,000,000 angels

1,000 x 1,000 = 1,000,000

:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

All the angelic beings in heaven are watching what is unfolding and they respond with worship of the Lamb.

:13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

him that sitteth upon the throne – God the Father

It’s not just those in heaven that are excited about Jesus being able to open the scroll and buy back the earth. It’s all of those on earth as well!

(Rom 8:19-23 NLT) For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. {20} Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God's curse. {21} All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. {22} For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. {23} And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us.

All of creation has been waiting for this moment to come.

:14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Amenamen – firm; verily, amen; at the end - so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled. It was a custom, which passed over from the synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed, had offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded Amen, and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own.

worshippedproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence; in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication

All of heaven is pretty excited about what is about to follow. Jesus is finally starting God’s Grand Finale.

Revelation 6

Jesus now begins to unroll this scroll containing the title deed to the earth. As He breaks a seal, the scroll unrolls a little way until it reaches the next seal.

These first four “seals” are each going to bring a horse onto the scene. These are often referred to as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”. Each of these first four seals is also associated with one of the cherubim saying, “Come and see”.

:1-2 Seal # / Horseman #1 - antichrist

:1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

one of the four beasts – one of the four cherubim before the throne (Rev. 4:6-8)

Come and see – John is invited by the cherub to see what happens on earth as the seal is broken and the scroll opened a little bit.

This is the official beginning of the seven year period on earth known as the “Tribulation”.

:2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

I’m not sure we can specifically identify the riders of each of these horses, but this one we have an idea.

Who is this rider on the white horse?

Let's get a clue:

(Rev 19:11-13 KJV) And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. {12} His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. {13} And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

Who could this be in our verse?

It’s not Jesus Christ, it’s the “antichrist”. He's going to be a very close copy, but not the real thing.
Both have a “white horse”. Both seem to have “crowns”, but the Greek words are different, they are different kinds of crowns. Jesus has a Sword, the antichrist has a bow.

Jesus Himself said,

(Mat 24:23-24 KJV) Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. {24} For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Before the Antichrist comes something has to get out of the way.

(2 Th 2:7 NIV) For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.

I believe the thing that is holding back the antichrist from being revealed is the work of the Holy Spirit through the church. When the church is removed from the earth through the Rapture, the antichrist will be able to gain power.
It's interesting that John, as a picture of the church, has already been caught up into heaven in chapter 4, and the antichrist and the beginning of the tribulation begin in chapter 6.

:3-4 Seal #2 / Horseman #2 - war

:3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

:4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

I don’t know if we can place a specific identity on the rider of this horse, but when he is released he will bring war on the earth.

killsphazo - to slay, slaughter, butcher. It’s not simple deaths involved, but ugly, slaughter of people.

(NLT) there was war and slaughter everywhere.

a great sword – a huge weapon. Could this be the use of nuclear weapons? Perhaps.

:5-6 Seal #3 / Horseman #3 - famine

:5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

balances – a device used in buying and selling. We might see it today as having a cash register in hand.

:6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

measure of wheat - about how much one person consumes in one day

pennydenarius – a Roman silver coin used in NT times, it was roughly equivalent to a day's wage for a common laborer. (Mat.20:2-13)

We could think of it in the sense that a man working all day at minimum wage will only be able to make enough money to feed himself. This isn't so great if you have to pay for a mortgage, or other expenses. It's even worse if you have a family.

We might also look at it as if a loaf of bread might cost about $50. This could be descriptive of famine, or inflation.

hurt not the oil and the wine – Not crude oil, vegetable oil.

Oil and wine aren't considered necessities, but luxuries.

For the common or poor person, there will be a great famine. But for the rich and privileged, there won't be any lack.

:7-8 Seal #4 / Horseman #4 - death

:7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

palechloros (chlorine) - green; yellowish pale

Hell - hades

The idea is that as “Death” rides along, killing people, Hades comes behind, collecting the souls of the dead.

the fourth part of the earth – one out of every four people will die. With 6.1 billion people on the earth, this comes to 1.5 billion deaths. This could be across the entire planet, or localized in a certain continent, such as in China or Africa.

with the beasts of the earth – wild animals will be killing people

:9-11 Seal #5 – the martyrs

:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

Whereas the previous seals caused things to happen on earth, this seal starts something in heaven.

Just as there is an altar in the Tabernacle, there is an altar in heaven.

the souls of them that were slain for the word of God – these are Tribulation martyrs. These are part of the 1 ½ billion that have died already.

Of the Antichrist we are told:

Revelation 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

for the testimony


Be ready for persecution.

Even if the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation, there’s no guarantee that we won’t ever experience persecution in the United States before the Rapture. There are many places in the world today where Christians are being severely persecuted for their faith.
What will you do if persecution comes (and if we should still be here)?
Jesus said:
(Mat 13:20-21 KJV) But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; {21} Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Are you allowing God’s Word to go “deep” into your life?
Do you have any “depth” as a Christian, or are you a shallow person?
If you were put on trial today for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

These Tribulation saints are asking God to avenge their deaths.

:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

white robes – the clothing of righteous deeds. This doesn’t mean they receive a new body at this time. Their resurrection (new body) happens after the Second Coming (Rev. 20:4).

until their fellowservants … should be fulfilled – there seems to be a number that will be martyred during the Tribulation. These that are under the altar aren’t the last of those who will be put to death.


Don’t wait

Some people have the idea that they won’t decide to follow Jesus Christ until after the Rapture. They figure they will choose to accept Jesus during the Tribulation.
Though this is something that could conceivably happen, if you can’t follow Jesus now when it’s easy, how are you going to follow Him later when it means torture and death?

:12-17 Seal #6 – earthquake

:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

earthquakeseismos – a shaking, a commotion; a tempest; an earthquake

There is an interesting parallel between the first six seals and the first section of Matthew 24 –

(Mat 24:5-8 KJV) For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. {6} And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. {7} For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. {8} All these are the beginning of sorrows.

In Revelation, the order is: Antichrist, war, famine, death, earthquake, same as Matthew. Jesus said this was only the “beginning of sorrows”.

sun became black – could be from an eclipse or from smoke in the atmosphere.

:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

This could refer to angelic beings (also known as “stars”) or it could refer to things from space coming into our atmosphere such as meteors, asteroids, comets, satellites, or even nuclear missiles.

:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

Some have suggested that this is a perfect picture of a nuclear explosion.

:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

This is everyone on the earth. Sounds like they’re going into bomb shelters.

:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Some have suggested that these six seals are the same as the trumpets of the bowls up ahead, but there is a difference. Here, at the sixth seal, the earthquake comes and people are running and hiding from the Lamb. In Revelation sixteen, at the seventh bowl (Rev. 16:17-21), as the earthquake comes people are getting ready to fight the Lamb (Rev. 19:19).

Also: This doesn’t look like repentance, does it? The world seems to have an idea that Jesus is coming back (“the wrath of the Lamb”), but they don’t seem to want to do anything proper, like repent.

Revelation 7

:1-8 The 144,000 Sealed

John’s vision now takes a break from the seals being opened. The seventh and final seal won’t be opened until chapter 8.

:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

For some reason these four angels are supposed to keep the wind quiet.

:2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

four angels … to hurt the earth … – we think that these will be the first four angels to blow trumpets during the seven “trumpet” judgments of chapter 8.

:3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

sealed – these servants of God will have some kind of “seal” on them, perhaps something visible, perhaps something invisible. This “seal” will be a form of protection, keeping them safe from any harm.

We too are “sealed” with the Holy Spirit when we come to believe in Jesus.

Eph 1:13 …in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
The “seal” is like a mark of ownership on our lives.

:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

There have been lots of people over the years who latch onto this section of Scripture and like to claim that they are the “144,000”.

Probably the most famous is the Jehovah’s Witness cult.

They ran into difficulty, however, when the group grew beyond 144,000. They have had to come up with different categories to keep people joining their group.

Who are the 144,000?

They are Jewish believers. We know this because John specifically lists them by their tribe. If someone claims to be part of this group, ask them which tribe they belong to!

These people are called servants

We believe that they will be a group of evangelists who will rock the world with their message of the gospel. We’ll see the fruit of their evangelism at the end of the chapter.
By the halfway point in the Tribulation, their job will be done and they will be seen in heaven (Revelation 14). We’ll see more about them when we get to chapter 14.

:5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.

:6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.

:7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.

:8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

What’s with the tribes listed?

The tribe of Ephraim isn’t mentioned. But they were a part of the tribe of Joseph, so in a sense they are here.

In particular, the tribe of Dan is missing entirely.

What happened to Dan?

There are a couple of possibilities, but nothing definite.

One suggestion is that this might have something to do with the tribe of Dan's reputation towards idolatry.

(Judg 18:30 KJV) And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.
Being the northern most tribe, it was also often one of the first tribes to be attacked, and one of the first tribes to fall during times of invasion.

Another suggestion has been made in regard to Jacob's prophecy over Dan:

(Gen 49:16-18 KJV) Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. {17} Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. {18} I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.
A very interesting idea has been proposed, and apparently even held by some Jewish Rabbi's (according to Chuck Missler), that the antichrist will come from the tribe of Dan.
Reread the passage in Genesis with that idea in mind. Interesting.

Yet when Jesus returns, the tribe of Dan will receive a portion of the land once again.

(Ezek 48:2 KJV) And by the border of Dan, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Asher.

:9-17 The Great Multitude – tribulation saints

:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

after this … a great multitude – after the 144,000 are sent out, this huge multitude appears. I think it is possible that these people are the fruit of the 144,000’s evangelism.

no man could number – earlier John described the number of angels as “ten thousand times ten thousand” (100 million; Rev. 5:11). Could this be a larger number?

all nations – whereas the 144,000 are Jews, this group consists of people from around the entire planet.

If you understand all of Matthew 24 as an outline of the tribulation period (which I think it is), you see that the gospel will be preached to all nations during this time:

Mt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

white robes … palms – This is the completion of the number of Tribulation martyrs that was referred to in Rev. 6:11. Palm branches were waved as a sign of victory (like Palm Sunday).

:10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

:11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,

:12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

All of heaven’s residents are in awe at God in His salvation of this great multitude of people.

:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

The elder wants to know if John recognizes these people. It’s just a test.

Warning! There may be “pop quizzes” in heaven!

:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

out of great tribulation – the King James is a poor translation here. It literally says, “Out of the great tribulation”.

This is not the church. These are Tribulation saints. If this was the church, I think that John might have recognized a few of the faces.

made them white in the blood of the Lamb – just as now, people will be saved during the Tribulation by trusting in Jesus’ blood to pay for their sins.

:15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

This is heaven.


The Fork

There was a woman who had been diagnosed with cancer and had been given 3 months to live. Her Dr. told her to start making preparations to die (something we all should be doing all of the time). So she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what she wanted to be wearing. The woman also told her pastor that she wanted to be buried with her favorite bible. Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. “There’s one more thing.” She said excitedly. “What’s that?” came the pastor’s reply. “This is very important.” The woman continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” The pastor stood looking at the woman not knowing quite what to say. “That shocks you doesn’t it?” The woman asked. “Well to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the pastor. The woman explained. “In all my years of attending church socials and functions where food was involved (and let’s be honest, food is an important part of any church event; spiritual or otherwise); my favorite part was when whoever was clearing away the dishes of the main course would lean over and say “you can keep your fork”.  It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming. When they told me to keep my fork I knew that something great was about to be given to me. It wasn’t Jell-O or pudding. It was cake or pie. Something with substance. So I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them, “Something better is coming so keep your fork too.”  The pastor’s eyes were welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman goodbye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that that woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better was coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favorite bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over the pastor heard the question “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled. During his message the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either... He was right.

So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you oh so gently that there is something better coming.