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Back To The Future – Sermon #18

 

Revelation 6:9-17

TWO WORLDS IN PRAYER

Intro: As we continue our journey through the book of Revelation, we are just beginning to deal with the events related to the Tribulation. As we understand it, this period of terror and judgment will not begin until the church has been removed from the world in the Rapture. The Tribulation Period itself is a seven year period of time that is divided into two 3 year segments. The first half is known as the Tribulation and the last half as the Great Tribulation.

In our last two studies we looked at the first of four seal judgments that will come upon the world. We saw the rise of the Antichrist, and the coming wars, famines and pestilence that will claim the lives of of the earth’s population. The first four seals deal with the first 3 year portion of the Tribulation. The two seals we will consider today will deal with the last 3 year portion of the Tribulation Period.

Just so you will know, the book of Revelation is not written in chronological order. The events do not necessarily take place in order in which they are written. The events of this book overlap in time. As we continue to move through the book, we are going to be seeing events that will overlap one another from time to time.

In our verses today, we see an unusual dynamic at work. We see people in Heaven and people on the earth in prayer. We see both saints and sinners engaged in the business of prayer. We want to study these two seal judgments today. As we do, I would like to talk to you about a couple of the events that will take place during the latter portion of the Tribulation Period. I would like to preach for a while on Two Worlds In Prayer.

You might think that the Tribulation Period will be a time period devoid of prayer and religious activity. We are about to see that just the opposite is true. There will be prayer in Heaven and there will be prayer upon the earth. History’s greatest prayer meeting will take place during the latter portion of the Great Tribulation, as saint and sinner alike lift their voices in prayer. Let’s examine Two World In Prayer.

 

 

 

I. v. 9-11 THE TRIBULATION SAINTS IN PEACE

(Ill. As these verses open before us, we are taken back up into Heaven and we are shown a scene of souls under the altar. There are a few things here worthy of our attention.

      When Moses was instructed to build the Tabernacle, he was to build it after the pattern of things in Heaven, Heb. 8:5. In other words, Moses built and altar where animals would be slain. That altar was merely a shadow of the altar in Heaven. Everything Moses built for Hebrew worship was only a shadow of what actually exists in Heaven. When these verses tell us that there are souls under Heaven’s altar, they mean what they say!

      These souls are people who have given their lives for the cause of Christ. When a lamb was slain on the altar, the blood and the ash would be a testimony to its sacrifice. Now, like a sacrificial lamb, these souls bear testimony to their own sacrifice.

      These souls under this altar totally devastate two major doctrines being taught in our day. First, they do away with the notion of “soul sleep. These souls are not lying in the grave in a body awaiting a resurrection. They are in Heaven. They are aware and talking. They are very much alive and in the presence of the Lord. Praise God, when our loved ones die, when we die, we do not go to the grave! We rise to be with our Savior, 2 Cor. 5:1-8. Souls do not go to the grave! They either go to Heaven to be with the Lord, or they go to Hell, depending on what they have done with Jesus!

Another doctrine knocked down by these verses is the doctrine of “Purgatory. There is absolutely no Scripture for the notion that men go to a place of fire where they atone for their sins. Then, when they have suffered enough, they can be set free and go to Heaven. That is Roman Catholic superstitious nonsense! There is no biblical foundation for such a doctrine.

In fact, the Bible is very clear! There are no four places to go when you die. If we listened to man we might believe that we could go to Heaven, Hell, Purgatory or the grave. The Bible makes it clear that death comes; there are only two possible destinations. You can either go to Heaven, or you can go to Hell. There are no other choices! (Ill. Why I preach about Hell!)

      With those thoughts in mind, let’s look into these verses for a few minutes.

A. v. 9 Their Sacrifice Here is a multitude of people who have been slain for the word of God and for the testimony they held. The word “slain means to butcher, or slaughter. These are people who turned to faith in Jesus after the Rapture of the church. These folks have given their lives for Jesus. They held fast to their testimony and to the testimony of Scripture. Even the threat of death could not cause them to turn away.

Yes, there will be people saved during the Tribulation. The Bible tells us that an army of Jewish evangelists are going to cover the globe preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. These evangelists will see a multitude that no man can number come to faith in Jesus. We will begin looking at these events in our next study. It is worthy to note that only those people who have never heard the Gospel will have the opportunity to be saved in that day, 2 Thes. 2:11.

Most of the people who come to faith in Jesus during this time period will be called upon to lay down their lives for Jesus. These Tribulation saints will refuse follow the Antichrist. They will reject him and his system. They will be hunted down like dogs and they will be executed for their testimony of faith in Jesus Christ.

 

(Ill. The history of the church is a history of persecution and martyrdom. Since Stephen was stoned to death in Acts 7, many millions have been put to death for their faith in Christ. From the coliseums of ancient Rome to the death camps of Nazi Germany Christians have always been called upon to pay for their testimony with their blood. Whether it was a gulag in Soviet Russia or a prison in modern China, there is a high cost associated with faith in Jesus Christ. From the Spanish Inquisition to the conflict in modern Sudan, the followers of Jesus have paid a high price for their faith in Him.

There is no way we can tally the total of those who have been killed for nothing more than professing faith in Jesus. Over the last 2,000 years, believers have been crucified, burned alive at the stake; sawn in half; drowned; stoned; sawn into the skins of dead animals while wild beasts were released in them; shot; stabbed; sealed in their churches and burned alive; raped; humiliated and tortured.

Emperor Nero tied Christians to poles, dipped them in wax and set them on fire to light his dinner parties. Thousands were murdered to satisfy the bloodlust of the Romans. In this day, over 150,000 Christians die every year just because they believe in Jesus! In the Sudan, young Christian girls are taken a sex slaves by Muslim men and raped and beaten until they are used up, then they are killed. And things are only going to get worse! Already, even in America, we are seeing the tide of public opinion turn against believers.

Christians are singled out and attacked for their faith. None would dare say a word about a Muslim or a Jew; but Christians are fair game! We are seeing a shadow of a world that is coming. When the Great Tribulation comes upon the earth, millions of believers will be put to death for their faith. It would not surprise me if we didn’t see the persecution we face increase as the days and years go by.)

 

These sacrificed saints are under the altar! They are in the place where the blood ran down. They are in a place of safety, salvation and security. They paid a terrible price for their faith, but now they are home and they are safe. We will say more about these people and the price they paid for their faith in Jesus when we get into chapter 7.

B. v. 10 Their Supplication These martyred saints are involved in prayer. They “cried with a loud voice” and filled Heaven with their petitions. The prayer they offer up is not a prayer for mercy for their enemies like that which Jesus prayed at Calvary, Luke 23:34. It is not a prayer like that which Stephen prayed as he was dying, Acts 7:60.

It is prayer for judgment. This kind of prayer is called “imprecatory prayer. It is the kind of praying that calls on God to move in judgment. It is the kind of praying you read about in the Old Testament, Psalm 94:1-4.

In the New Testament age, in this age of grace, we are taught to pray for those who wrong us, Matt. 5:44. He set that example for us as He was dying on the cross, as I just indicted.

We are in a day of mercy and grace in this age. When the church and the Holy Spirit are removed and the Tribulation Period begins in this earth, it will not be a time of grace and mercy. It will be a time of justice and judgment. These saints pray this way out of a desire to see the name of God vindicated and honored. They call on God to judge the world and those in it, thus glorifying His Own name!

 

(Ill. Friend, the day of grace will end some day! When it does, it will be too late for you to be saved. Today is your day. Now is your time! Call on Jesus while there is hope; while there is grace to save your soul!)

 

C. v. 11 Their Satisfaction These saints are given white robes. This signifies their purity and their saved condition. They are clothed in white because they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. They are told to “rest yet for a little season. They are being told that more blood must yet be shed and they are to be patient until the Lord finishes His work upon the earth.

These people surely do not understand how the Lord can allow the martyrdom of His saints to progress upon the earth. They are comforted here by the Lord’s words, as He tells them, “You just be patient for a while; this thing is winding down and it’ll be better after while!

 

(Note: There are many things we do not understand in this world today. Why do the wicked prosper while God’s children seem to suffer? Why are there such injustices in this world? Why does God allow these things?

We must learn to take our comfort from the fact that our God is working out an eternal plan. It will be better down the road. He will balance all the accounts one of these days. Our duty now is to remain faithful even when we don’t understand what He is doing. He knows best!)

 

I. The Tribulation Saints In Peace

 

II. v. 12-17 THE TRIBULATION SINNERS IN PANIC

(Ill. While prayer for judgment is being lifted up in Heaven; prayer for protection is being lifted up on the earth. While those in Heaven are at peace, those on the earth are in panic. Let’s see why they are in panic and what they do about it.)

A. v. 12-14 A Universe In Turmoil These verses describe a universe caught in the grip of a terrible cataclysm. Earthquakes will rip through the earth with devastating power. Great clouds of dust and ash will the thrown into the atmosphere, dimming the powerful light of the sun. Sackcloth of hair refers to the black garments worn by mourners. The moon will take on the appearance of blood as it tries to shine through a ravaged atmosphere.

This “great earthquake is the first of three earthquakes mentioned in the book of Revelation. They will all be terrible.

 

(Ill. This world is no stranger to earthquakes. Scientists tell us that more than 13 million people have died in earthquakes over the past 4,000 years. We saw with our own eyes what an earthquake can do when a powerful quake occurred under the Pacific Ocean in December of 2004. That earthquake spawned a tsunami that killed 300,000 people!

In 1811-1812 there was a series of great earthquakes in Arkansas that rearranged the landscape of the area; caused rivers to change their courses; filled the skies with dirt and ash; and caused fires.

On May 18, 1980 Mount St. Helen’s in Montana, a volcano, erupted. This eruption was triggered by a violent earthquake that caused a rockslide comprised of one-half cubic mile of rock. As the summit and north slope of that volcano slid down her sides, pressure was released inside the volcano – where super hot liquid water immediately flashed to steam. The northward-directed steam explosion released energy equivalent to 20 million tons of TNT, which toppled 150 square miles of forest in six minutes. In Spirit Lake, north of the volcano, an enormous water wave, initiated by one-eighth cubic mile of rockslide debris, stripped trees from slopes as high as 850 feet above the pre-eruption water level. The total energy output, on May 18, was equivalent to 400 million tons of TNT - approximately 20,000 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs. The explosion showered town as far away s 250 miles with volcanic ash. But it will nothing compared to the big one – the earthquake of God’s wrath.[1])

 

We are also told that the stars of Heaven will fall down to the earth like the fruit of a fig tree that is shaken by a violent wind. This verse is telling us that there will be tremendous meteor showers that will fall upon the earth in those days. These meteor showers will cause tremendous death and devastation. Whole cities and countries may be destroyed as the heavens come crashing down to the earth.

 

(Ill. In Winslow, AZ there is a meteor crater called the Barringer Crater. It was formed when a meteor between 90 and 150 feet in diameter slammed into the earth. That single impact left a crater 4,000 feet across, 2.5 miles in circumference and over 550 feet deep.

Another meteor fell to the earth in 1908 in Siberia. This one was estimated to be about 180 feet in diameter. When it hit, it flattened trees in a 25 mile radius and the explosion caused by its impact was heard half way around the world in London, England.[2])

 

There is no stability as the heavens above appear to roll up like a book and as the mountains and islands are moved out of their places by the devastating geological occurrences that are unleashed upon the earth in those tragic days.)

 

B. v. 15-17 The Unconverted In Terror We are told that men of all ranks are overcome with fear. Kings are the rulers. Great men are the governmental leaders and men of power. Rich men are those who control the wealth of the world. Chief Captains are the military leaders. Mighty men are the celebrities and those with influence and power. Bondmen and free men alike are affected. When God’s wrath is finally poured out upon this world, men will be reduced to the same level. Fear in the face of wrath will be the rule of the day. Let’s examine these verses for a few minutes.

1. v. 12-14 What They See As the universe convulses in geological and astronomical upheaval, men will see everything they have ever considered stable and permanent taken away from them. The earth is always there and it is always stable. It will be shaken. The sun, moon and stars are always there. They too will be taken away. For millennia men have worshiped this natural world and staked their hope and futures upon the stability of the universe. They will suddenly find themselves in a world where nothing is stable. Their world is literally coming apart at the seams and they are terrified!

2. v. 15-16 What They Say In their terror they cry out for the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the terrible gaze of God on His throne and from the wrath of the lamb of God. Here is a world that has rejected God at every turn. They have denied Him and His Son while they have embraced Satan and His false Christ. Now, they must face His judgment and they are filled with fear.

3. v. 16 What They Seek They run to the caves and dens of the earth to find a refuge from the presence of God. Folks, the evolutionists have sold this world a bill of goods! Cavemen are not in our past, they are in our future! (Ill. You do your children a grave disservice when you trust them to a godless school system and never check up on what they are learning!)

They want to hide themselves from the face of God and from Jesus. They use a strange statement. They say they want to hide themselves from “the wrath of the Lamb. That is a strange picture! There is probably no animal more tender or gentle than a little lamb. Yet, these big, powerful men want to be delivered from the “wrath of the Lamb.

There are two words translated “wrath in the New Testament. One is the world “thumos. It refers to a sudden outburst of anger.” It is like a shotgun blast that is over in a moment. The other word is the word “orge. It speaks of anger that slowly rises like water against a dam, until the dam breaks and the flood comes. It has the idea of someone standing, red-faced with heir fists clenched as they try to hold back their anger.

Well, God has held His anger for 6,000 years and the water of His wrath has risen against the dam of mercy and that dam is at the bursting point. Men are going to face the flood of God’s fury because of their sins and their rejection of Christ.

4. v. 17 What They Sense Men sense that their time is up and that they are about to face the undiluted wrath of Almighty God; and they are absolutely right! Man’s time is up and judgment is coming! They pray, but their prayers will go unanswered. Nothing can deliver them from the judgment whose time has come!

Notice this: when these people begin to pray, they do not pray to God. They call on this natural world. That is where their faith is and this world will fail them in that day. There is no cry for grace or mercy from God. There is no confession of sin. There is only a desire to be free from wrath. Even in the midst of judgment, lost sinners are still selfish and unchanged!

 

Conc: The martyred saints in Heaven are praying for God to judge sin. The lost sinners on earth are praying to be delivered from the unflinching gaze of God. The saint’s prayer will be answered the sinner’s prayers will not!

Friend, it is either grace or wrath! Psalm 130:3 says, “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? I would not want to face God in my own righteousness. The best man can produce is filth in the sight of God, Isa. 64:6. I thank God that I will stand before Him one day clothed in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, Phil. 3:9. How about you? When I see the Lamb, I will see Him as my Savior. Many will face Him as their Judge, Rev. 20:11-15. How will you meet Him?



[1] http://www.thelivingwordtbc.com/rev17.htm

[2] http://www.nineplanets.org/meteorites.html

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