Preparation for the
Clap of Thunder
The following is a short commentary on the
first nine chapters of Revelation which lay the foundation for
the Mighty Angel and the little book of seven thunders to be opened.
The first nine chapters of Revelation help us to understand why the seven thunders are placed in chapter 10. The more direct application of these first nine chapters is yet future during the time of the fulfillment of the seven thunders, which is in the framework of last-day events. With this in mind, this study will take us through these first chapters of Revelation, showing their relationship (in last-day events) to the reading of the little book.
But first, “. . . we do well to remember that John is not following a chronological sequence, but introducing and arranging his material in a dramatic way so as to drive home basic truths about the struggle between good and evil. He writes to the church in an effort to awaken and nurture hope in the ultimate triumph of God’s people during the last days. Faith in the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus will enable them to ride out the storm of controversy with patient endurance.” (God’s Church in a Hostile World, Joseph J. Battistone, p. 123.1)
The Testimony of Jesus
In Revelation 1 we are first introduced to the Author Jesus Christ; and the writer John. In the first sentence we find the explanation and need for the book —THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST— “to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass.” Sounding as a trumpet Jesus summons His church as the Alpha and Omega; the Beginning and the Ending; the First and the Last; the One which was, and is, and is to come; the Ever Existent Creator. He shows them their failings and short-sightedness, pleading that His people prepare to give a witness as a lamp in the darkness, the last witness to a dying world. Their witness is His witness —the “testimony of Jesus Christ.” Later in chapter 19:10 an angel explains that the “testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy.” Those living in the last days of earth’s history and who seek the guiding of the Holy Spirit to understand the prophecies of this book, will be guided to the safe borders of Heaven. The Revelation of Jesus Christ is a book of prophecy, and promise is sure, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
The Revelation was written hundreds of years ago for the vindication of God, the uplifting of Jesus, and the salvation of believers through the centuries of their historical fulfillment. But these prophecies apply with more force to the last generation, for they live in “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.” (Dan 12:1). The testimony of Jesus is not given to tell us that things are going to be peaceful in these last days. Jesus voice is as the sound of rushing waters, swift to do their work of cleansing. His words will cut as a sharp double-edged sword through the deceptions of the false prophets in these last days! The book of Revelation is not a sealed book! It is a book of warning and it is from Jesus Himself! It is our salvation to know “The Revelation of Jesus Christ!”
Further Study —Revelation 1
Revelation 2 & 3
Awake! My Church
In Revelation 2&3, the seven churches primarily apply to the last generation and in a more direct manner than we now understand! They apply to the individual member as well as to the church as a whole. The messages of the seven churches will play a major role in showing who are the wise, and who are the foolish. In this generation in which we are living, Christ is looking for a people who will heed the seven messages to His church, change their lives, and follow Him. He will employ every means possible to enlighten His church, but like their counterpart Ancient Israel, many will still reject Christ’s invitation. He comes to His church first, will they listen?
In Matthew 25 Jesus tells of ten virgins, brides maids, which are represented as His church. When the wedding came, five are wise because they have oil (the Holy Spirit), and five are foolish because of the lack of oil. So it is here in the churches of Revelation. Five churches receive reproof for their foolishness! If they will listen, obey, and follow Him; —they will be wise unto salvation. Christ approves of only two churches —Smyrna and Philadelphia!
The one group, Smyrna, seals their lives in martyrdom, giving the third angel’s message. The other group, Philadelphia, completes the vindication of God by proving to the universe that the Power of God in His Christ can be lived out completely victorious, sinless, showing a perfect likeness of Christ character —before and after human probation ends! Both of these churches are plagued by the same tribulation problem, the “synagogue of Satan”. (Rev 2:9; 3:9) They say they are brethren (spiritual Jews: of like beliefs) which “keep the commandments of God”, but they are of the roots of Judas who betrayed Christ, and they act accordingly. In God’s providence these troublers are brought to worship at the living saints feet, the 144,000, (i.e. the Philadelphian church) in admittance that they choose the foolish path. Further Study —Revelation 2&3
Revelation 4 & 5
The Lamb is Worthy to Receive the Book
In Revelation 4 & 5, we are invited to look into the Heavenly Sanctuary into the throne room of our Heavenly Father. In chapter one we see Jesus as the High Priest of the Heavenly Sanctuary and here we see Him as the lamb of sacrifice. What Jesus is doing now in the Heavenly Sanctuary is the most important subject to be understood by those living in these last days. Hebrews 4:14; 6:19,20; 10:19-22. We are invited to look through the open door and see the love of God working for the salvation of man. The activity about the throne is so impressive and involved in saving man that John lacked for words to describe the action! Isaiah (Isa 41:15-29) and Ezekiel (Eze 1:4-28;2:3) too, were transfixed by the windstorm coming out of the north an immense cloud with lightning surrounded by brilliant light. It was all they could do to describe the activity of God and angels in the wheels of human affairs as the last concluding scenes of earth’s history were shown them!
John then sees the scene change. All this activity and praising is suspended momentarily as all attention is turned to God the Father sitting on the throne. More specifically, all eyes are on the sealed scroll in His right hand. It appears that all the activity of heaven is stopped because of this sealed scroll. What is in the scroll? Why is it sealed? What is so important that it captures the attention of all heaven? John understands that the sealed scroll must have something to do with explaining the momentous activity and the salvation of man! (Further Study of this scroll or parallels can be found in Ezekiel 2:1-3:11; Jeremiah 36:1-3; 51:59-64; Zechariah 5:1-6:3; Isaiah 34:1-17.)
After silence reins supreme, a mighty angel (probably Grabriel the angel of prophecy), cries out by command of the Almighty, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But, no one is found who can open the scroll! Why? —because all the activity involves sinful man on earth and the scroll explains this activity. Man has sinned and sin is death! Only blood can pay the price and finish the great controversy! Isaac asked his father, "Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering." [Gen. 22:7,8] As the end of earth’s history nears, only the slain Lamb of God is worthy to take the scroll of prophecy because He paid the price with His blood. It is by His Testimony that He is able to take the scroll, break its seals and read it —He alone can fulfill what is written within! In prophetic symbols, we are shown that all heaven is interested in saving those who call on the name of Jesus as the Lamb of God, their Savior.
Even though this book in the Father's hand is a book of prophecy of the nations, it is far more! Neither is it just an unfolding of events in the last days of earth’s history; for it reveals the great controversy from beginning to end. But still, it is more than that; for Jesus did not pay the price of His life for prophecy! He paid the price of His life —‘a Lamb as it had been slain’— to save the repentant sinner! And herein lies the reason for the slain Lamb; not only to save the life of every truly repentant sinner, but to secure the universe from future rebellion! Only Jesus can take the book from the Father’s hand. This book is far more than past, present, and future, history and prophecy! It is the Book of Life!
In symbols are described the workings of God through Jesus His Son in the history of nations and His church. Herein is “contained the divine utterances, His authority, His commandments, His laws, the whole symbolic counsel of the Eternal.” All who have sincerely called upon the Salvation of Heaven are in this book. It is their names, and ours, that sets the price on this book so high! This book which Jesus paid for with His life, is the most important book of the Heavenly Kingdom, and as we shall see later in this study, it plays a vital role in the finishing work of salvation for the last generation of living saints. It brings us to the closing work of Christ’s ministry —the investigative judgment of the living and the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary.
Chapters 4&5 are directly linked to chapter 10. In Revelation 5:1 we see “a book . . . sealed” and in chapter 10 we see a “book open”. There should be no doubt that this is the same book. The opening of this book, in the very near future, will reveal the heavenly formula which will prepare the last generation of saints to be strong and ready to take their place in fulfilling the closing events of earth’s history. The scenes described in chapters 4&5 need to be studied in the light of the seven thunders of chapter 10. It’s not until we have an understanding of the seven thunders that we can fully understand the great messages of these two chapters, the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the three angels’ messages of chapter 14. We are entering the events of the last days when increased prophetic knowledge will open the sealed book of prophecy. Jesus will make known to us the contents of the little book! It is the most important present truth message we can have for this time, as the last generation of history! Oh, give us this experience, we pray, Lord Jesus!
Further Study —Revelation 4 & 5
The Seven Seals
In Revelation 6, with intense interest we, with John, enter the Heavenly Throne Room and watch the breaking of the seven seals on the closed book.
Now that the scroll is in the hands of Jesus, thunder is heard as the last great storm approaches, and all heaven is in active service with their Creator. The last time God's thunder was heard was a the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. Then Jesus the Lamb begins to break the first four seals, and each of the four living creatures take their turn showing John their individual seal. These living creatures are representative of the character and work of the angels about the throne. His work of salvation for man is shown by their work in man’s affairs. The lion, ox, man and eagle represent the four most conspicuous orders of animal life. They are the leaders in their field. As God’s messengers, they have the courage and boldness of the lion; the strength and patience of the ox; the intelligence and reasoning power of man; and the keen vision and swiftness of an eagle. Through the angels, Christ character is revealed to the last generation.
The first clap of thunder is heard as Jesus starts to unseal the scroll. Now the storm of the last events of earth’s history are about to begin! And as these events begin, the stage is set by revealing four horses of war. They are running at break-neck speed to the last great battle, Armageddon, the most solemn and feared war to be carried on in earth’s history. These unsealed war horses and their riders reveal the condition of the professed believers in the last days. All four ride at the same time, a race as it were, to the end of time, but only one will cross the finish line.
The first four are unsealed at the time when the law of God is under attack. The fifth seal has its place during the loud cry, well into the time of trouble and the rule of the two anti-christian beasts of chapter 13. The sixth seal begins to be unsealed, at the deliverance of God’s people, at the beginning of the seventh plague, and the seventh seal is unsealed at Christ’s coming and the saints’s journey to the New Jerusalem.
Only one horse rides through to victory! White with the Righteousness of Christ (7:13,14), and with reins in hand, the King of kings guides the last generation church to victory —“conquering, and to conquer.” The other horses meet with the doom of their choosing because their riders are riders of doom! An eternal doom! An eternal death!
Yet, as we read on, the picture for a large portion of the saints giving the last message is no different than in any other age. So many have given up their lives for the Word of God during the first part of the time of trouble that their spilled blood symbolically cries out for the justice of God to put an end to the insane evil ravaging the earth. But time has not yet shown the fullness of sin, and they are bidden to hold their peace; for in God’s appointed time (Dan 8:13,14,19)will sin be completely unmasked and shown for what it really is! God’s mercy and justice will be shown to all, but many will not receive His saving power.
As the events proceed to the end of time, just before Jesus appears in the clouds, all nature comes unglued! Signs in the sun, moon, and stars tell of His very soon coming! The earth is bathed in storms and earthquakes so fierce as to move mountains and make islands disappear. Those who do not have their faith, hope and salvation on Revelation of Jesus Christ will hide themselves and cry out for death. This is the climax of the ages! John saw the horses and riders, the terrible persecutions, leading up to the signs in the sun, moon and stars causing the wicked to cry out for the only thing that will end their agony, death. Then comes the great question which is on all lips —saint and sinner— “Who shall be able to stand?”
Further Study —Revelation 6
The Redeemed Shall Overcome
In Revelation 7, the closing work of the earth is the sealing. There are seven seals to unseal, yet within the unsealing is sealing! How is this? Those who live to witness our Savior’s glorious appearing will need a special preparation of heart and life. As the four angels hold strife, war, and civilization from destroying itself, there is a group of people, 144,000 in number, which are being sealed with the seal of eternal salvation. The character of their heavenly Father is permanently sealed into their minds by their free choice! They have separated from the false churches, they have no guile and are without fault before God. They are the ones that hold fast that which they have, and will not give up their crown of life. John sees the redeemed of all the ages, but a special group are presented as living through the end time events without sin. The sixth seal closes with the 144,000 having a special experience with God and receive His seal of approval.
After the little company (144,000) on earth are prepared and the sealing angel speeds back to heaven with the message that the work of preparation for them is done, Christ in the sanctuary above, completes His mediation and appears as the King of kings. They are waiting for the appearance of Christ in the clouds of heaven and live to see His glorious coming.
The promised blessings of heaven are upon these last witnesses of earth’s history; “For the Lamb . . . shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
Further Study —Revelation 7
Revelation 8 & 9
The Seven Trumpets
In Revelation 8&9, Christ is the angel standing before the altar of incense. We can be assured that our prayers are heard. Christ mixes the incense of His sacrifice with our prayers and presents them to the Father. During these last days when trouble is upon the earth as in no other time in earth’s history, how strong our link is with heaven will be shown in the determination of our prayers.
The fulfillment of the seven trumpets call attention to the actions of Satan personating Christ. He is pictured as full of light, shinning as a star, falling from heaven (see also Rev. 12:3,4, 12,13), but only having the light of a lamp. He walks the earth, contaminating and destroying every one with the bitterness (Wormwood) of his hatred for God's government of love. He destroys trees, grass, creatures and ships of the sea, fountains of waters and the rivers, and the sun-moon-stars; only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. He places himself as the millennial christ and makes void in the hearts of men the Law of God and His sanctuary (Dan. 8:5-14). The trumpets contain judgments upon those who are weighed in the spiritual balance and are found wanting! They have had the truth, but lost it! Their first love has died, and they are no longer considered worthy to carry the Pure Gospel to a dying world! But the time of God’s destructive trumpet judgments is the time of mercy for those who have had no opportunity to learn what is truth!
Again, as in the seals, the first four trumpets are grouped together. The last three trumpets are so severe that they are considered by heaven to be the trumpets of woe. At the end of the ninth chapter we find that these woes, which fall upon apostate Christendom, fail in humbling their hearts, and convincing them of their great sin and iniquity in apostatizing from God and Christ. Will man learn that the hand of God is overruling in every army and that He guides in every war!
Anciently, the trumpet was used to summon the time to worship and great gatherings, and to herald the approach of disaster or war. So it is with these trumpets! These seven trumpets unfold seven great warnings! The horses of war (first four seals) are martialed to the last great war by the trumpets of war! These trumpets are calling the attention of all on earth to listen to the reading of the scroll! Will the world take heed to what the mourning and woe mean? Will they listen?
Further Study —Revelation 8 & 9
Now, for the next study—
A Great Storm is Gathering!
The greatest controversy ever fought in all the ages is to have it’s climax in the soon coming events! We have been living in the Day of the Lord and are now in the last hours of earth’s history! Let us get ready! The Great Revealer of secrets tells us with unsurpassed detail what is going to take place and how we are to react under His Guiding power. The question is asked, “Who shall be able to stand?,” and the answer is given, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
We need to closely study the messages to the seven churches, and if necessary, apply them to our lives to make the change Jesus request! The seven seals are also important, for they warn us of being on the wrong side at the wrong time! The seven trumpets are the attention getters of God, and require that we take heed to their warnings of disaster. But none of the previous three sets of seven demand attention as do the seven thunders! which is the contents of the little book. All events in heaven and earth center in the receiving of the little book paid for by the Divine blood of the slain Lamb of God, and the reading of that book by Jesus in the revelation of the seven thunders as they relate to the last generation!
In the next study, Revelation 10, we will be discovering saving truths for our time! The following are some of the questions we will answer:
Who is the mighty angel?
How is the Righteousness of Jesus Christ shown?
Why seal the book of seven thunders?
Why eat the little book?
Why is it sweet and yet bitter at the same time?
And why must the little book “prophecy again?”
We need to realize why the eating of the little book of the seven thunders for our generation is so important!
Let us pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our search for the meaning of the seven thunders!
A Great Storm is Gathering!