Revelation 4:1

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 3, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

John the apostle has been exiled to the island of Patmos where he sees a vision of Jesus walking among lamp stands. We’ve seen this as a picture of Jesus acting like the priest who cleans, refills, and relights the lamps in the Temple.  We are the, “lights in this world”, and Jesus is using this book to help us burn brightly in this dark world we live in.

Today we enter a new section.  A door opens in heaven.

4:1 A Door Opens

:1 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.”

:1 After these thingsmeta tauta

The two Greek words sort of “frame” this verse.

They are the first two words of the verse translated “after these things”
They are the last two words of the verse translated “after this”

We saw back in chapter one that Jesus gave John a key to how this book was going to be laid out.

 (Re 1:19 NKJV) —19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.
Three parts to the book

1) The things John saw – the vision of Jesus among the lampstands

2) The things which are – the letters to the seven churches

3) The things which will take place after this

That’s the same Greek phrase that begins this chapter.

The events in this chapter and beyond take place “after” the things in Revelation 2-3

(Let’s backtrack a bit…) We’ve focused on how the letters of chs. 2-3 ought to apply to all of our lives in all of the churches (“let him who has ears hear”).

But there are reasons for the letters being in the order they are.

The Postal Route

Play Asia Postal Route map video
If you plot the cities on a map, you discover they are in an order. The letters fall in a circular route, most likely the route that a messenger would take in delivering the letters to these seven churches.

Prophetic order

I believe there’s a prophetic/historical order as well.  I believe there is a broad pattern to church history being painted here.  The dates I’ll give are approximate.  This is not an exact science.  Look in your Bible to the letters in chs. 2-3.
Of the seven churches, Ephesus would be the oldest of the churches – according to the history in the book of Acts.  I think that sets up the potential to look at this as a sort of historical list.
Ephesus – the early church AD 33-100
This was the age of the apostles.  They had good works, they had good doctrine, but they had begun to leave their first love.
Smyrna – the persecuted church – AD 60-300
Historians tells us that during this time something like six million Christians were martyred for their faith during the Roman government's attempt to wipe out Christianity.
Pergamos – the compromising church – AD 300 (Orthodox)
Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.  This stopped the persecution, but it also brought heathen traditions into the church.
Thyatira – the corrupt church – AD 1000 (Roman Catholic)
Even though the Roman Catholic Church had established itself around AD 600, the “Great Schism” took place around AD 1000 when they broke off from the Orthodox churches.
Sardis – the dead church – AD 1500 (Reformed)
Martin Luther posted his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg in 1517 and sought to bring reform to the Catholic church.  Some could argue that he didn’t go quite far enough.
Philadelphia – the outreach church – AD 1750 (Evangelical)
George Whitefield brought thousands to Christ with his preaching in England and America prior to the Revolution.  William Carey took his first trip to India in 1793.  Preachers like Finney, Spurgeon, Moody, and Graham brought thousands to Christ.
Laodicea – the lukewarm church – AD 1900 (Liberal)
Modern liberalism creeps into the church.  Preachers no longer believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God.  Concepts like sin, hell, and salvation are no longer talked about.
If you look at it, you see that most of these churches are still around today.
Keep in mind that there are “overcomers” in all of these churches.
It’s after this flow of church history (chs. 2-3) that John writes,
(Re 4:1 NKJV) 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.”

John is going to have a “rapture” experience, and it takes place “after these things”.  After what things?  After the history of the church.  After the church age.

:1 a door standing open in heaven

openanoigo – to open; perfect passive participle

In Rev. 3:8, the door in Philadelphia was a door of opportunity. In Rev. 3:20, the door is to your heart.

Here, the door leads to heaven.

The door has already been opened.  Jesus opened the door when He died on the cross and paid for our sins.  But now John notices it.
We often think of heaven as being somewhere far “out there”.  But maybe it’s close and we just don’t see it.
What if there was a doorway to transport us into this other dimension?
PlayBeam Me Aboard” clip.

:1 voice … like a trumpet

Trumpets in the Bible were used for several reasons:

They were used by the army to tell everyone when to advance and when to retreat (Judg.7:18; 2Sam.2:28)
They were used to warn a city of an impending attack (Ez.33:3)
They were used in worship, to praise the Lord (Ps.150:3)
They were used to gather the people together to recruit an army
When the Judge Ehud called Israel together to fight the Moabites, he blew a trumpet (Judg.3:27)
When Gideon called Israel to form an army against the Midianites, he blew a trumpet (Judg.6:34)
When the Bible talks about the rapture, it is connected with the sound of a trumpet.  God is calling His army together, His people together.

(1 Co 15:51–52 NKJV) —51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

:1 Come up here

John hears a trumpet and the next thing he knows, he’s in heaven.

It’s just like the event that we call the “Rapture”

(1 Th 4:16–17 NKJV) —16 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. 17 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.
Our word “rapture” comes from the Latin translation of this verse, for the words we translate “caught up”.
The Rapture is a “resurrection” where people get new bodies.  Those who have already died and whose spirits are now in heaven will receive their new bodies.  Those of us who are still alive will be caught up and changed.
Some say that the “Rapture” isn’t in the book of Revelation, but I think that John hints at it right here.
Many churches teach that there will be a “Rapture” of the church, but they don’t always agree as to when it will happen.
Some believe that the Rapture happens just before Jesus comes back at the end of the Tribulation – this is called the “post trib” position.
Others believe that the Rapture will happen at some point in the middle of the Tribulation period – these positions are called “mid-trib” or “pre-wrath”.
I believe the Rapture will happen before the Tribulation period starts.  Our position is called “pre trib”.

Reasons for a Pre-Trib Rapture

1. Perspective & Presence

John’s perspective in Revelation:

Pay attention and you’ll see that John describes everything from chapters 4-22 from the perspective of heaven.  That includes the Tribulation period (chs. 6-18)
Why does John write from heaven’s perspective to describe the tribulation?
Because John is writing to the churches (remember the seven letters?), and I believe the church is going to be seeing these things happen from the perspective of heaven.
The church is going to be raptured BEFORE the Great Tribulation period, which starts in chapter 6.

The presence of the church in Revelation.  Where is it?

The word “church” (eklessia) is found 18 times prior to chapter four (during the times that “are”), and only once after chapter four (during the times “after these things”), at the end, when Jesus says:
(Re 22:16 NKJV) “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
Once John is in heaven, his focus is directed primarily to the things on earth.
Because there is no Gentile church on the earth, there is no mention of it.  There are believers on earth, but they are Jewish believers.

2)  Who’s Who

Daniel has an amazing prophecy we call “The Seventy Weeks of Daniel”.  It describes 70 “weeks” of years (70x7) and actually predicts the day that the Messiah would show up in Jerusalem (Palm Sunday).

But the prophecy hasn’t been completely fulfilled.  The final “week” (seven years) is the time period we call the Tribulation, God’s judgment on earth.

Look at who the “weeks” are intended for:

(Da 9:24 NKJV) “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
Who is Daniel’s “people”?  Israel.

There are some who make the mistake of thinking that God is finished with Israel and that all the promises for Israel in the Old Testament now apply to the church.

These same people tend to think that the church will go through the Tribulation and that God will protect the church through it.
But God isn’t finished with Israel.
(Ro 11:1 NKJV) I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
(Ro 11:25–26 NKJV) —25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;

Israel has only been temporarily blinded until the “fullness of the Gentiles”.

We believe that the “fullness of the Gentiles” happens when that last pagan Gentile gets saved.  That’s when the church is taken out of here, the blindness of the Jews towards Jesus is lifted, and God will once again be working through the nation of Israel instead of through the church.

Israel will be going through the tribulation, not the church.

3)  Wrath and church don’t mix

The tribulation is a time of God’s wrath

(Re 6:17 NKJV) For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Some people wonder why God doesn’t do something about all the evil in the world.  Just wait.
God’s wrath will be poured out on an unbelieving world.

Yet wrath is not in God’s plan for the church.

When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he talked a lot about the second coming of Christ.  In this context, Paul writes to the church,
(1 Th 5:9 NKJV) For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

How could the church go through this time of “wrath” when God has not appointed us to wrath?  We will be raptured before the Tribulation.

4)  The faithful escape

Jesus talked about the coming Tribulation period and said this:

(Lk 21:34-36 NKJV) —34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

To the church in Philadelphia, Jesus wrote:

(Re 3:10 NKJV) Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

We see some similar Old Testament examples as pictures of this:

Both Noah and Lot are held up by Peter (2Pet.2) as examples of those who escape.
They both escaped times of judgment by being removed before the judgment. Peter writes:

(2 Pe 2:9 NIV) if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.

In contrast, it seems that Jesus promises the unfaithful to go through the Tribulation.

Jesus wrote to the unrepentant in Thyatira:
(Re 2:22 NKJV) Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.

Kind of sobering, huh?

5)  Surprise

The Scripture talks about the suddenness of the Second Coming.

(Mt 24:36 NKJV) “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
(Mt 24:44 NKJV) Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Yet Scripture actually gives us the day when Jesus will come back, tied to an event during the tribulation period.

(Da 12:11 NKJV) “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.

How can there be a surprise, when it’s something that can be calculated?

It’s because they are two separate events – the Rapture and the Second Coming.
The Rapture comes first, unexpectedly, and is not tied to events in the Tribulation.  I found a preacher from Australia who explains it perfectly:

Play “Rapture” video clip.

The actual Second Coming, when we return with Jesus, will be calculated, 1290 days after the abomination of desolation.
We’ll see that when Jesus comes back, the armies of the earth are gathered together to fight against Him.  They are actually expecting Him!
If the Rapture came at the end, right before Jesus comes back, there would be no surprise, we would be expecting it.


Rapture Ready

You might ask me, well does there need to be anything fulfilled prophetically before the Rapture happens?  When do we know we’re close?
There’s nothing I can think of.  We ARE close.
That’s the whole point of being ready.
We are to live our lives as if it could be today.
For some people it takes a call from the doctor with bad test results before we get serious about getting ready to meet God.
Warning:  I’m going to show you a beer commercial. I am concerned that some of you are going to be so sidetracked that I showed you a beer commercial that you miss the point.  Watch carefully.
PlayNewcastle commercial – Doctor
Did you notice that the fellow didn’t really get the message.  He said, “See you next week doc”.  The doctor responded, “Oh no you won’t”.
This guy came home from the doctor looking very worried. His wife said, “What’s the problem?” He said, “The doctor told me I have to take a pill every day for the rest of my life.” She said, “So what? Lots of people have to take a pill every day their whole lives.” He said, “I know, but he only gave me four pills!”
Jesus told a story about “being ready”
(Mt 25:1–13 NKJV) —1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Are you ready?  What if it were to happen today? (Invite/Candle Song)