«Chapter Four begins a new section of the Book of Revelation that reveals the future. Revelation 4:1-19:11 reveals the future events of prophecy which ...»
THE THRONE IN HEAVEN
Chapter Four begins a new section of the Book of Revelation that reveals the
future. Revelation 4:1-19:11 reveals the future events of prophecy which will come after
the Rapture of the Bride of Christ ending the Church Age. In Chapter 4:1, God tells
John, "I will show you things which must be hereafter.@ Remember that Revelation 1:19
is key to the book and that the book addresses the past, present, and future. From Revelation 4:1 to the end the book is referring to the future, "the things which must be hereafter.@ A literal translation reads, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after these things." What God says, is that He now is going to reveal what is to take place after the events of Revelation 2 and 3, which refer to the churches in Asia Minor that existed in John's day.
From this point on to the end of the Revelation there is no further mention of the institution of the local church on the earth. All believers, both living and dead since the time of the beginning of the dispensation of the Church Age have been resurrected and are now with the Lord in heaven. (Acts 2 records the beginning of the Church Age) At this point in time, Jesus Christ has returned to earth as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 records, which is called the Rapture.i The Body of Christ has been caught up and the New Testament records that following the Rapture, Christians will be judged at the BEMA judgment and then at the end of the Seven Year Tribulation they will return with Christ and reign on earth with Him beginning with the Millennium and then for eternity (1 Cor.
3:10-15; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:10, 20:6).
In the sequence of the end time events the Rapture takes place after the events of Chapter 3, and beginning in Chapter 4, Church Age saints are now in heaven and not mentioned again until the end of Chapter 18 when Christ returns to earth with His bride.
Chapter 18 ends with the destruction of Babylon. More will be said about this later, but let it suffice to say that the destruction of Babylon ends the rebellion against God of those in the Seven Year Tribulation. Chapter 19:1-10, refers to the events at the end of the seven years and just before the Lord Jesus Christ returns to earth. Therefore, Chapters 4 to 18 covers the period of the Tribulation.
It is vital in interpreting the Book of to understand that during this period the Church Age saints are not on earth. There is no further mention of the churches until Chapter 19:9, which states, “the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." This pictures the all Christians collectively, both dead and alive, as being the "bride" of Christ. Views such as the Mid-Tribulation and Pre-Wrath Rapture view fail to take this into account in formulating their interpretations. There cannot be a Mid-Tribulational or Pre-Wrath Rapture, because God plainly says all Christians from Pentecost to the Rapture, both who died and who are alive at His coming are now in Heaven. After Christians are raptured they are taken to heaven where the BEMA judgment takes place. 2 62 Revelation 4:1 begins and ends with the phrase, "meta tauta" in Greek which translates Aafter these things.@ The present Church Age as represented by the seven churches mentioned in chapters 2 and 3 has ended and the events that are about to be revealed come in time after the events of Chapters 2 and 3.
The churches are referred to nineteen times in chapters one through three, and not mentioned again until Chapter nineteen. God=s prophetic clock is once again moving forward and He is dealing with Israel and completing the Old Testament Dispensation. Daniel prophecies that there would be four hundred and ninety years from the going forth of the decree of the Persian King, Cyrus to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah. (Daniel 9:24-27; 2 Chron. 36:22; Ezra 1:1-18) History records Cyrus made his decree in 536 B.C. Counting forward in time from that decree Jesus Christ was crucified (cut off) 483 years later as Daniel 9:26 states. However, the coming of the Messiah would be a full four hundred and ninety years. Four hundred and ninety years equals seventy weeks of seven days each.
Jesus the Messiah was cut off in at the end of the sixty ninth weeks, therefore the prophecy has not been completed. There is one week to go to fulfill the prophecy which ends with the coming of the Jesus the Messiah.
It is apparent that Christ has not returned and also that prophecies concerning the Tribulation and the nation of Israel are not be fulfilled. Clearly, for the past two thousand years God has been working in a new dispensation which began with the Church Age which was begun as Acts two records. Therefore today, God is working with the Gentiles and gathering Himself a body of believers, who are Christians. But God has plainly stated that He will fulfill all prophecy which means He will end the Church Age and once again start His prophetic clock and complete the Old Testament dispensation. Therefore the Church Age began in Acts 2 and will end with the rapture as 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 records.
Because Christians are absent from the earth during the events of Chapters 4 - 19, clearly these chapters are dealing with the nation of Israel and the other nations of earth during this seven year period. It is vital in interpreting this section of the book to understand this important fact. Many have mistakenly referred to these prophecies as applying to the churches and this has caused great confusion in interpreting the Scriptures.
For example: The events of Matthew 24-25 are prophecies which occur during the Seven Year Tribulation also referred to as Daniel's Seventh Week.
Many have tried to make current events fit into Bible prophecy such as Israel=s Six Day War in June 1967's, the Camp David Accords, etc. In the local paper the "Spectrum," in June 12th, 1988 there was an ad which stated that a Dr. Skousen, "will show how current events in Israel, Europe and America are fulfilling Prophecy."3 This cannot be true because according to the Bible there is no biblical prophecy to be fulfilled until after the Rapture of the Church Age believers. God stopped His 63 prophetic clock when Israel rejected Christ their Messiah, but God starts it again with the start of the Tribulation. (See Appendix 2, "Is the Church in the Olivet Discourse") Many who deny the literal interpretation of the Book of Revelation, such as the Amillennialists state that God disavowed Israel when the nation rejected Jesus the Messiah. Thus, all promises God had made to Israel were made null and void.
This is the reason they deny there will be a thousand year Millennium. If God has rejected Israel there is no need for Christ to reign on the earth on the throne of David and Israel being restored and ruling the world. The many Old Testament prophecies that clearly teach that God promised that they would be regathered and restored to the land He gave them.4 AThus God has made specific and absolute statements concerning Israel.
saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.@ (Jeremiah 31:35-37) Clearly God will never abandon Israel.
God also promised the Christians of this dispensation that they would not go through the Great Tribulation. In Revelation 3:10, Christ said to the Philadelphian church that, "I also will keep thee FROM the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." Note this is not a local event as this "hour of temptation" will come upon the entire world. The "hour of temptation" is clearly a reference to the coming Seven Year Tribulation. God is telling the members of this church to take comfort in knowing that they will not be on earth during the events of the Tribulation. What is in view in the Tribulation is that God is going to purge Israel and all the nations of the earth in preparation for the Millennial reign of Christ the Messiah. Where then is the Church? The following section will explain this.
Robert Van Kampen in the 1970's and Marvin Rosenthal in the early 1990's popularized a new view called the Pre-Wrath Rapture which teaches that Athe Church@ will go through the first part of the seven year Tribulation. They place the rapture as occurring before God=s pours His wrath on earth, thus the reason for the name Pre-Wrath Rapture. They purport that the first three and a half years of the Tribulation will be a time of relative peace and the Seal judgments of Revelation 6-7 are the not the pouring out of the wrath of God, but of man through the Antichrist.
64 However, the fatal flaw to this view is that in Revelation 5:1-14 is the prelude to the Tribulation in which Jesus Christ is presented as the Lamb, who is the only worthy One, who has the authority and position to open the seven sealed book.
Revelation 5:3 states, AAnd no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.@ The book that no man could open is the seven sealed book of the wrath of God which begins the seven year Tribulation with the out pouring of God=s wrath. What is about to unfold is plainly not the work of any man, but of the Messiah, the work of A... the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David.@ (Rev. 5:5) It is the Lamb, Himself, who opens the first seal (Rev. 6:1) and thus initiates the beginning of the seven years of the Tribulation.
Revelation 6:3, states that Ahe@ referring to the Lamb of verse 6:1, and verses 5, 7, 9, and 12, continues in opening each of the subsequent seven Seal Judgments.
Clearly, these are not judgments initiated by man or Antichrist, but by the Worthy Lamb of Chapter 5. It is Jesus Christ who opens each of the seals in the first half of the Tribulation and brings God=s wrath on the earth.
THE RAPTURE, THE BEMA JUDGMENT, AND THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THELAMB.
The Pre-Tribulational Rapture of the Church.
Earlier in our notes (Chapter One) we defined the Rapture. The Rapture takes place at the end of the Church Age and before the beginning of the Great Tribulation. At the Rapture, the Christians (those who have been saved since Pentecost until today) both alive on earth and those who have died, will be "caught up" in the air to meet the Lord. (1 Thess. 5:15-17, 1 Cor. 15:52)
65 The BEMA Judgment or Judgment Seat of Christ.
After the Rapture believers are to be examined before Christ and judged according to their works. Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 refer to this as the Judgment Seat of God. 1 Corinthians 3:9-15, refers in detail to the substance of this judgment. It is not a judgment of condemnation, but of reward. It is only for Christians, saved during the Church Age who are of the Body of Christ. Old Testament saints will be judged later at the end of the Tribulation. Only born again believers, who are the Bride of Christ, are judged and present at the BEMA judgment.
In Romans 14:10, the phrase "judgment seat of Christ" is the Greek word, "BEMA." The word "Bema" refers to "a raised place mounted by steps; a platform, tribune; used of the official seat of a judge. Acts 18:12, 16... uses the word of the "judgment seat of Christ" and Romans 14:10 of the structure of the judgment which resembles a throne, which Herod built in the theater at Caesarea. From this amphitheater Herod viewed the games and made speeches to the people." 5 The word BEMA was also is used to identify the place where the athletes were rewarded at the Grecian games in Athens and referred to as the "Seat of Reward." After the Rapture Christians will be judged according to their works. What believers sow in Christ, meaning what works they do trusting in and through the power of Christ, be rewarded. This reward given will be in several forms. The New Testament speaks of the faithful believer receiving one or more of five crowns as a reward.
The Five Crowns AKnow ye not that they which run in a race run all, The Incorruptible Crown.
but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown;
but we an incorruptible.@ (1 Corinthians 9:24-25) The Crown of Rejoicing. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?
Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?@ (1 Thessalonians 2:19) AI have fought a good fight, I have finished The Crown of Righteousness.
my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.@ (2 Timothy 4:7-8) The Crown of Life. ABlessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.@ (James 1:12) 66 The Crown of Glory. AFeed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.@ (1 Peter 5:2-4) The believer=s works are tried in the fire. What was done in Christ will reap us reward, "gold, silver, precious stones." (Eph. 5:18) However, that which was done in the flesh will be consumed in the fire as "wood, hay, stubble" and receive not reward. The passage says those whose works are burned will suffer lost, but themselves will be saved Aas by fire.@ (1 Cor. 3:15)
The Marriage of the Lamb.