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REVELATION 4-6
SEGMENT 1

Revelation 4-6
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“…When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”

-     Psalm 139:15-17, emphasis mine

The first prophecy in Revelation is quite a challenge to understand because several large subjects dovetail into this prophecy. To make this presentation easier to understand, I have divided it into four segments: The first segment will deal with motive – why did God write a book before He began creating life? The second segment will examine why the book had to be sealed with seven seals. The third segment will examine the timing of Revelation 4-6, and the last segment will deal with the meaning of each seal.

Segment 1

Why Did God Write the Book?

The Problem with Sin

You may ask how can an omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipotent (all powerful) God have a problem. It all started when Lucifer, the brightest and highest of God’s created beings, exercised his God given right to rebel against his Maker. Lucifer and the angels (like Adam and Eve) were created with a pure heart, having a propensity for righteousness. There is no taint of selfishness or rebellion in them. At some point in time, Lucifer chose, of his own free will, to rebel against Christ’s authority. Lucifer’s actions created a chain of problems, which ultimately introduces rebellion to the universe. During a lengthy period of grace, God tried to get Lucifer to repent, but he refused. When Lucifer and his followers became hopelessly defiant, God cast them out of His house. God did not destroy them because He knew His largest problem was not the presence of sin in His universe. From the beginning, God’s greatest problem has been preventing sin and rebellion from rising a second time.

Think about this. If you were God, how would you prevent sin from occurring again among children that you gave the right to rebel?” Because our “Heavenly Father knows best,” He allowed Lucifer and his followers to live for a while so that angels and humans alike could understand the nature and properties of sin as it developed. Because God is omniscient and omnipotent and His character is love, He has devised an elegant process that, in the end, will constantly thwart the rise of sin throughout the endless ages of eternity. In simple terms, the process works like this: At the end of sin’s drama, God will repopulate Heaven with people who had sinful natures, but chose to submit to His authority. The angels who chose to rebel against God with Lucifer will be replaced by ex-sinners who overcame the rebellion of sin. By doing this, God will have a host of seasoned witnesses – elevated to the stature of “kings and priests” – who will be able to resolve any issues that might lead to rebellion in the future! (Revelation 1:6) How ingenious! The seasoned experiences of ex-sinners will forever keep the universe free of sin! God knows that the price for sin has been too great to ever have it rise again.

Think This Through

The Bible says that God is love. (1 John 4:8) Because He is a loving God, He gave each of His children the most precious gift that a Creator could offer a created being – the power of choice. If we so choose, we can rebel against our Creator. Of course, all choices have consequences, and rebellion against God’s laws and authority are not exempt; they too have serious consequences. In the beginning, only God had the knowledge of good and evil. This means the angels did not understand the consequences of sin. However, when the drama with sin is completed, the knowledge of good and evil will exist as an eternal verity (a highly exalted truth that will never fade) because everyone in God’s universe will clearly understand four matters:

  1. God’s laws are designed for the benefit of His children. Because God knows the end from the beginning and He knows what laws are essential for eternal happiness, His laws are unchanging and nonnegotiable. God Himself is subject to His own changeless laws, even to the point of death.
  1. There is no selfishness or self-seeking in God’s heart. The Father was willing to annihilate Jesus for our sins and Jesus was willing to cease to exist, if necessary, so that we could have eternal life.
  1. The self-centered behavior of the sinful nature is not only self-destructive it is corporately destructive. Rebellion exposes every child of God to injury or loss.
  1. Because God will not impose His will on His children, the only way there can be a happy and harmonious universe after rebellion occurs is through justifiable annihilation of those who insist on rebellion.

Because these four matters will be widely understood and highly exalted at the end of sin’s drama, God will not be able to spare future rebels from immediate execution if sin rises again. Keep in mind that God did not destroy Lucifer and his followers, or Adam and Eve, at the time of their rebellion, because the knowledge of good and evil had not yet unfolded in the universe. However, after the four points listed above are widely known and proven to be true (at the end of sin’s drama), God will not tolerate rebellion against “the righteous order” necessary for the happiness and the benefit of His children. (Have you noticed in Genesis 2:17, that Adam and Eve were to be destroyed the same day they sinned? God relented because Jesus offered to die in their place. Jesus was willing to die for Adam and Eve because the guilty pair did not sin defiantly.)

This is a key point: God does not destroy sinners because He is offended. Rather, God destroys those who insist on rebellion because rebellion hurts everyone. Annihilation is the only way to terminate the horrible consequences of sin. When the universe clearly understands the consequences of good and evil choices, sin’s victims will prevent a second rise of sin forever. (Nahum 1:9; Matthew 12:31,32)

Currently, God is resolving two problems. He is resolving the existing problem of sin, and He is resolving the problem of sin in such a way that His children will refuse to participate in sin again! How wonderful! When the current drama with sin ends, it will become obvious that only an omniscient God of love and wisdom could so masterfully resolve both problems.

Foreknowledge at Work

The subject of God’s foreknowledge can be hard to understand because God’s behavior is not like our behavior. (Isaiah 55:8,9) God is love. This means that He has no selfishness in Him. God does not manipulate His creatures on the basis of His foreknowledge. He has given us the power of choice and He always treats us on the basis of love even though we do make choices that are contrary to His will. Fallen human beings have selfish hearts. If we had the gift of foreknowledge, we would manipulate others to our satisfaction and we would manipulate the outcome of life to protect ourselves and enhance our circumstances. In other words, if the gift of foreknowledge were mixed with human selfishness, the result would be extraordinary manipulation of those around us. Consider the following illustration:

Let us assume that a recently married husband and wife have foreknowledge. Let us assume they intend to have a family of nine children. Since they had foreknowledge, they foreknew that their firstborn child will be a son which they will call “Louis,” and they know he will be born on august 10, 2004. Fifty years later, on Louis’ birthday, August 10, 2054, they know that Louis will start an intense argument and he will attempt to kill both parents that evening. Before his fifth birthday, this husband and wife know that Louis will attempt to steal their assets to support his reckless and indulgent lifestyle and his addition to drugs. Because they have foreknowledge, the parents know that Louis will use lies to alienate the other siblings from them. To keep his true motives from being detected, Louis will try to convince his brothers and sisters that his parents are evil. Furthermore, he will claim they owe him money and are unwilling to meet their obligations. The parents foreknew that two of their children will sympathize with Louise and take sides with him. Even though they know these terrible events will unfold, they also know that during his first forty years of his life, Louis will be a wonderful, loveable son. In fact, of all the nine children, Louis will be their favorite. Since these parents know what the situation will be on Louis’ birthday in 2054, what should they do right now to protect themselves and their offspring from Louis?

A.      Have no children. 

B.      Have eight children, do not give birth to Louis.

C.      Abandon Louis immediately after he is born.

D.      Kill Louis before he turns forty.

E.       Kill Louis when he starts taking drugs.

F.       Kill Louis when he begins to tell lies to limit his influence on the other children.

G.      Write out the contents you know is going to happen (foreknowledge) and seal it up before any child is born so that at the right time, your children and grandchildren can examine the whole story and determine the truth about Louis and his parents.

These seven options may sound ridiculous, but they have a serious parallel. God is all knowing and He foreknows everything in the past, present and future. Of course, some of these options were not viable options for a loving God, but they illustrate a range of considerations that God faced before creating life. God foreknew that Lucifer, the first and highest of His created beings would eventually choose to become His enemy. God foreknew the damage that Lucifer and his followers would cause in His house. God also foreknew that Adam, Eve would sin, and that Earth would be filled with billions of rebellious people. (Isaiah 44:8, 46:10,11; Jeremiah 17:10). Given His heart of perfect love and foreknowledge, God looked at all the options and He chose the equivalent of option “G.” To better appreciate the problems that God faced before creating life, let us consider these seven options from God’s perspective:

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