See Part One – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3
Part Two – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5
Part Three: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7
Part Four: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 8-9
In the first three chapters of Revelation we saw Christ prophetically addressing seven churches which represent “the Church” composed of all true believers in Christ on earth throughout the centuries. In Rev 4 we saw “the Church” called up to heaven in the Rapture, and we saw ourselves surrounding God on His throne. In Rev 5 we saw Christ on the throne of God being singularly declared worthy to unleash the judgments that will defeat evil and win earth back for God’s glory. And then beginning in chapter six we have begun to see those judgments in the form of seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls.
I had described two ways God could bring about some of these judgments: by supernatural means or by merely stepping back and allowing man to do what comes naturally to his depraved nature (e.g., with nuclear war). But there is actually a very real “third way” – namely the eruption of super volcanoes: It turns out that just one of these things “could be sufficiently severe to threaten the fabric of civilization.” And there are FIVE super volcano zones – including one in Yellowstone! Which is to say that God has THREE paths to fulfilling every prophecy in the Book of Revelation: supernatural causation, allowing humans to fulfill the judgments upon themselves, and very real and very terrifying natural calamities that scientists declare are every bit as real and possible as they are unthinkable.
I thought that worth pointing out; I have to do a lot of simplifying and selective editing for a “midlevel” flight over Revelation, and that means it’s possible to leave out something I should have included. Such as the effect of super volcanoes and their end times potential.
Today we’re going to get an interlude from all the hell-on-earth judgment (at least until the seventh trumpet is sounded and we get the terrifying bowl judgments). We’re going to discuss the message of an angel, we’re going to talk about the coming Jewish Temple that will be built and we’re going to examine the ministry of the coming “two witnesses.”
“Then I saw another mighty angel…” We saw “a mighty angel” in Rev 5:2. These angels who are designated “mighty” are apparently members of the highest order of angels (the archangels) who stand in the very presence of God. There are messages that are so significant to human history and divine mission that no one but an archangel with supreme authority such as Michael (Jude 9) or Gabriel (Luke 1:19) can deliver them. And get a load of the sheer majestic “mightiness” of this “mighty angel”: he is clothed with a cloud which is the vehicle GOD Himself uses to come to earth (see Psalm 104:3; Isa 19:1; Daniel 7:13; Matt 17:5). A rainbow is upon his head heralding back to Gen 9:9-17 and God’s promise that He remembers and keeps His covenants. His face will be like the sun to remind us of the brilliant glory of the One from whose presence he has just come (e.g. Ex 34:29). His feet are like pillars of fire, reminding us of Christ in Rev 1:15 and symbolic of divine judgment. In placing his right foot upon the sea and his left foot upon the earth, he comes to take possession of the entire earth by divine decree of judgment. And his voice is as the roar of a lion. And the voices of the seven thunders answer his call.
This is a passage that always sends shivers down my spine. But as incredibly mighty and glorious as this archangel – quite possibly the archangel Michael himself – is, if there were a contest to see who could fall on their feet before Jesus Christ first, I’ll bet this mighty angel would win hands down. He serves One more glorious.
The archangel takes possession of the land and the sea and says that “there shall be delay no longer.” Delay in doing what, we might ask. This angelic visitation takes place very near the end of the seven years Tribulation: there shall be delay no longer in Jesus Christ returning to the earth He created as King and Lord over it. Christ shall delay His return no longer. The time of the eschaton predicted by the prophets has finally arrived and absolutely no power of man or demon will be able to hold it back.
We’re told “the mystery of God will be accomplished” (Rev 10:7). The completion of the mystery is the conclusion of the Father’s plan that was initiated before the foundation of the world and is now finally to be realized in its fullness. Many times, overwhelmed by evil, righteous man has cried wondering if God was even working at all in the affairs of men. GOD WAS WORKING. GOD IS WORKING. AND GOD’S WORK WILL CULMINATE IN GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE.
The “bittersweet message” of Rev 10:8-11 is this: God’s Word is sweet when we learn of God’s love for man resulting in God’s salvation of man accomplished by Christ. But it is bitter indeed to discover the brutal reality in store for all who reject Christ’s salvation and therefore experience the full wrath of God’s holy judgment for their sins. God does not want us to be a people who are characterized by rejoicing when the wicked “get theirs.” God wants us to be a people who grieve when He is forced to judge sin and unbelief. Because that’s how Jesus will feel, and we should be like Jesus (Luke 9:52-56).
Revelation 11 assures us that there WILL be a Third Temple. The Second Temple was destroyed as Christ predicted in AD 70 prior to John’s receiving Revelation in 96 AD. So there is no question that this is a yet-to-be-built structure. Part of the seven year covenant that Israel signs with Antichrist will allow them to reinstitute animal sacrifice (Dan 9:27) – and there is NO other place that a Jew would do so but in the Temple. The problem is that for 4,000 years the Temple has stood in one and only one place – and that place appears to be taken up by the Muslim Dome of the Rock which was deliberately built right on top of the ruins of the Jewish Temple. We don’t know what’s going to happen: destruction in an earthquake, destruction in a war, or something else. Scholars like Dr. Grant Jeffrey believe that the Second Temple is actually in a slightly different location from which is commonly believed and the Third Temple could be constructed without damaging the Al Aqsa Mosque. Jeffrey claims that a previously unknown gate of Solomon’s Temple proves that the original Temple was several hundred feet north of the Dome of the Rock (remember Herod MASSIVELY enlarged the Second Temple).
It’s actually amazing how many obstacles existed to a Third Temple – and how many have been overcome. Money is no problem when you realize how many Jews over the centuries have included the Temple in their wills or purchased Temple bonds. But only a Jew from the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron can enter the Holy of holies and how can Jews prove their descent? The answer to that is DNA testing resulting in “the first family reunion of the Jewish priestly dynasty in nearly 2,000 years.” You’d need to have a Sanhedrin which hasn’t existed since 425 AD. The answer is that Israel reestablished the Sanhedrin in 2005. You need holy anointing oil – which was discovered and chemically verified as authentic in 1988. And you need stuff like a red heifer – and they’re working on it and they’ve already come so close it’s unreal. If you think any of the difficulties are beyond God, you’re daft.
I’m excited about the Third Temple as a fulfillment of prophecy – but in many ways it is actually a bad thing. It will result from the covenant with Antichrist (bad thing); it will be built as a result of Israel’s unbelief in Messiah Jesus (bad thing); and Antichrist will sit in the Holy of holies and decide he’s God (bad thing). The Jews have longed for their Temple because they believe it will fulfill all their national and religious hopes as a people; but sometimes you’ve just got to get exactly what you want in order to be able to see that what you always wanted won’t fulfill you, after all. Ultimately Jews will have to realize that it is NOT the Temple which merely symbolizes the work of Christ that fulfills hope, but only Christ Himself.
In Rev 11:1 an angel tells John to physically measure the Temple. If you study Ezekiel 40 and Zechariah 2, you will see that when God takes such measurements, it is to evaluate the spiritual condition of His people. Is this Third Temple built with the help of Antichrist and the False Prophet (Rev 13:11-18) fulfilling God’s true calling to Israel? Not even close. It is built as an apostate place of worship that refuses to recognize Israel’s true Messiah; rather, they just want some kind of national identity symbol if not a giant stone idol. And thus the verdict of Rev 11:2: in the second half of the Tribulation for 42 months, Jerusalem will see nothing but war and suffering until “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). And the times of the Gentiles will only end with the return of Messiah Jesus.
Rev 11:3 introduces the two most incredible Jesus freaks who ever lived: God’s two witnesses. God is NEVER left without a witness. Who are these men? We won’t know for sure until “the players take the field,” but many scholars believe it will be Moses and Elijah. In God’s very last words in His Old Testament, He says in Malachi 4:5-6, “I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” And that “great and dreadful day” is the second half of the 7 years Tribulation. Elijah will show up at the beginning of the Tribulation and he will preach the Gospel right under the angry nose of the Antichrist who is powerless to stop him. And a lot of people will be saved. But ONLY “when they have finished their testimony” (Rev 11:7) and said everything that God sent them to say, will Antichrist finally be allowed to kill them. Because God is sovereign. Elijah’s most famous miracle was shutting up the sky for – get this – three and a half years (James 5:17; 1 Kings 17:1). Just like “somebody” will do during the Tribulation. So Elijah has good bona fides as a candidate. Why Moses? Moses’ most famous miracles featured turning water into blood and sending plagues (Rev 11:6 cf. the Exodus). And both Moses and Elijah had their ministries end in failure – with Moses being denied entrance into the Promised Land (Num 20:12) and Elijah being taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot after he fled in fear from Jezebel and asked God to kill him. And God replaced him with Elisha (1 Kings 19:16). I’m sure both men would love to have a second chance to be faithful to the very end – and I believe God will give them that opportunity.
Every Christian ought to be like the two witnesses from Revelation while on this earth. Think about it; these two men have been in heaven with Christ for millennia – and now they’re returning back to earth for one more mission and an opportunity to cover their past failure with glory. In the same way, according to the Bible we died in Christ (Galatians 2:20) and were born again to a completely new life. We’ve tasted a little bit of heaven through the Holy Spirit; and now each of us are on earth on a divine mission from God. BE A WITNESS!
Part Seven: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15
Part Eight: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 16-18