When The Trumpet Sounds

Revelation 9 records the fifth and sixth blast of the angelic trumpets. With each blast, another calamity is poured out upon a Christ-rejecting world. While each of these is intriguing in themselves, two things stand out to me as I read through them.

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First, it strikes me, the judgment of God does not come in a single stroke. It is spread throughout seven trumpet blasts, the pouring forth of seven bowls, and a multitude of other expressions. The message screams at me, God truly does not want men to perish. Each judgment is strong enough to grab attention, while allowing many to have the opportunity to respond by crying out to Jesus for salvation. No doubt, many will respond during the tribulation. Sadly however, many will also reject, seeking death rather than conversion. The same is true today. Some, who hear of the love and grace of God, decide to follow Him, while others reject Him, thinking they can escape judgment by ignoring it. Don’t misinterpret the patience and mercy of God, by thinking His judgment can be evaded by ignoring it. Cry out today for Jesus to save and transform you.

Second, I am struck by the fact that God makes a distinction between those who belong to Him and those who do not. A mark is placed on the forehead of all who believe. We are not sure what this mark is or whether others can see it, but we do know it is a distinguishing mark, affecting how a person is treated by God. Those with the mark avoid the judgment. Currently, there is no mark on the forehead of genuine believers. Instead, the evidence of true conversion is the indwelling of the Spirit of God. The Spirit is manifested in that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. God has always been in the business of making a distinction between His people and those who do not yet follow Him. In Egypt, the Israelites avoided many of the plagues; in the tribulation, those with the mark of God, will avoid much of the calamity caused by judgment. Today, the child of God dwells under the mighty hand of God, in a place of sweet fellowship peace and comfort.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Ezekiel 29- Crutches
Ezekiel 30- It’s Coming, Are You Ready?

Silence In Heaven

Revelation 8:1
“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”

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Revelation 8 paints a sober picture and before the events unfold, Heaven goes silent for half an hour. These events are a series of judgments that are unleashed upon the earth. While it, no doubt, grieves the heart of God to judge the sinful men He sent His own Son to save, these judgments are released as the prayers of God’s people arise like incense before the throne of God.

Revelation 8:3-4 “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.”

For thousands of years, the hearts of God’s children have been crying out against the injustices of men. In war-torn parts of the world, men’s hearts cry out; they are saddened and exhausted by constant uprisings, as others vie for power, position or wealth. They are weary of watching their sons and daughter die. They are weary of losing their freedom to share Christ with their neighbors and friends. They are weary of the persecutions that rise against them. Their hearts cry out to heaven, where their prayers become like sweet incense before the throne of God. In peaceful parts of the world, men’s hearts cry out against injustice and immorality. They are tired of wickedness running rampant; tired of evil being called good and good, evil. Tired of hearing of millions of wombs being assaulted and babies aborted. As their hearts cry out, they too, become like sweet incense arising to the throne of God.

Revelation 8:5 “Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.”

All that follows, is the just recompense of living sin-filled lives. All the injustice that man has brought upon man will one day be reckoned, as God righteously deals with the sins of man. While my heart and yours echo these cries for justice, we are all guilty of committing the very injustices we cry to be made right. Fortunately, there is a glorious escape from the judgement provided in the cross. Every heart that cries out for His mercy will be pardoned from all sin and escape the righteous judgment to come.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Ezekiel 28- Israel

Sealed And Sent

Revelation 7:3
“Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

Revelation 7 begins with four angels holding the winds of judgment in their hands, waiting to be released upon a Christ-rejecting world. Fortunately, before they are allowed to begin, another angel is released from heaven to seal those who belong to God. We are not told exactly what this seal looks like, but we know that it is a mark that God places upon the forehead of these believers. It indicates that they belong to Him. There is a similar picture to this found in Ezekiel 9, where prior to judgment coming upon Israel, a messenger of God clothed in linen, marks all who belong to God rescuing them from divine judgment.

Ephesians 1:13 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise . . .”

While it is clear, Revelation 7 is speaking of a particular group of people, sealed during the great tribulation, it is also true that all who trust in Christ receive a seal which marks them as God’s possession. That seal is the Holy Spirit, who indwells us at the moment we trust Christ for salvation. Paul tells us, upon receiving the indwelling of the Spirit, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.

Just yesterday, I was privileged to meet a woman and watch as she made a decision to trust Christ. She was beaming with joy so great, she could hardly contain it. All the pain and anguish of the difficulties of life, both past and present, seemed to be overshadowed by the intense joy that filled her upon receiving Christ. She was sealed with the spirit of promise.

Revelation 7:9-10 “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

Those sealed by the Lord did not simply stand around and discuss how they had been sealed. Instead, they looked upon the world they lived in, and saw multitudes in need of Christ, and they declared the Gospel. What an amazing thing it will be, to stand in heaven and meet those who you helped lead to Christ.

Recently, I met a woman, who when she learned I was from America, began to thank me for those missionaries who came to the former Soviet Union in the early 90′s. She and her husband, along with many friends, had come to Christ through the ministry of one such missionary. What she did not know, the man standing with me, was one of those early missionaries. Fresh out of High School, he had given a year of his life to take the Gospel to Eastern Europe. What joy filled her eyes as she met, not the man who led her to Christ, but one who symbolized for her, all who loved her enough to risk it all for the Kingdom. What a joy! One day we will be in heaven with saints from every tribe and tongue, who have been washed in the Blood of the lamb and sealed with the Spirit.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Ezekiel 25- Feeling Special 
Ezekiel 26- Prophecy

Hiding From Him

Revelation 6:16
“Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”

Chapters 6-19 in the book of Revelation, describe the period known as the Tribulation. According to Daniel the prophet, it is a seven year period when the judgment of God is meted out upon the earth. The fact that this judgment is spread out over seven years is a testimony to the grace of God. Instead of being immediate and complete, this judgment is poured out slowly, in order to grant time for unbelievers to come to Christ. According to Verses 9-11, many will come to faith in Christ during this time. Sadly however, not all who are given the opportunity to come to the Lord do so. Some will ignore the warnings and attempt to avoid, or even hide themselves from judgment, rather than coming to the one who provides forgiveness. This is an all too common experience.

Matthew 27:19 “While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, ‘Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.’”

Pilate had a unique opportunity to make a decision for the Lord. He had the testimony of three and a half years of Jesus’ ministry taking place right under his nose, coupled with the testimony of others who declared the innocence of Christ (Matthew 27:4), and the very Words of Christ Himself, declaring He was the King of Kings and the Savior of humanity (Matthew 27:11, John 18:36-37). Yet, instead of making a decision to follow Christ, he took the worst advice that has ever been given. He chose to listen to those who said, “have nothing to do with Jesus”, and in an act filled with symbolism, he washed his hands of Christ (Matthew 27:24). Sadly, many are following the advice of Pilates wife. Instead of coming to the One who will pardon and forgive. They are acting like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. All the signs are screaming out for the need to come to Christ, but like those in Revelation 6, they are running from Christ, and hiding in the caves, wishing the things designed by God to lead them to Jesus, would just go away.

Does that describe you? Are you trying to avoid God? Or have you realized, all the things in your life, both good and bad, have been designed by Him to bring you to the only One who can forgive your sin and make you right with Christ. Instead of hiding in a cave, or numbing yourself with religion, pleasure, substances or distractions, come to Christ and allow Him to wash you in His blood, and cleanse you from all your sins.

Pray now, “Jesus, forgive me of my sins, I want to become your follower and live for your glory.”

If you need help following Jesus, contact us at church@ccvb.net

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Ezekiel 23- Our Influence
Ezekiel 24- Perspective

Title Deed

Revelation 5:5
“But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’”

Revelation 4 and 5 takes us on a heavenly tour, and with an all access pass, we are brought into the throne room of Jehovah God. There, we are privileged to observe as the saints and angels worship at His feet. Suddenly, the scene shifts from the throne to a scroll in the hand of God. All of Heaven seems fixated on this scroll and its contents. John is never told exactly what this scroll is, but it has been suggested by some, that it is the title deed to the earth.

Going all the way back to the beginning at the garden of Eden, we find that all of creation was given to mankind to enjoy. It did not take long before man’s rights were forfeited through sin, and all of creation was brought under bondage. At that moment, God’s plan of redemption began to unfold. Adam and Eve were promised that God would raise up a Savior who would make all things right. As the centuries moved forward, prophet after prophet spoke of the coming Messiah, who would free us from the bondage of sin, and establish His righteous reign over the earth.

In the heavenly scene, we find all heaven weeping because no one is found worthy to open the title deed to the earth and redeem it. No one, that is, until the Lion of the Tribe of Judah enters. Suddenly, all attention turns from the Scroll to the Lion. John also turns and describes what he saw, “A Lamb who had been slain.” The only one, in all of heaven and earth, worthy to hold the title deed to heaven and earth, is the one whose blood was shed to redeem us. Heaven’s choir breaks forth in song again, as angel and saint herald praise to the Worthy One.

“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals; for You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”

Jesus alone is worthy of our praise, for Jesus alone has set us free from the bondage of sin and death, and given us the hope of Heaven’s reward. While we will one day join the heavenly chorus, we need not wait that long, we can fall at the feet of the Worthy One now, and celebrate the promise of eternal life.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Ezekiel 21- For Or Against
Ezekiel 22- Stand In The Gap

Heaven’s Door

Revelation 4:1
“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.’”

John looked into the future of mankind and saw the day when the heavens will open, not to speak, but to call home all who have trusted in Christ for salvation. Paul explained that the dead in Christ would rise first, and we who are alive and remain will be caught up together in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). What a day that will be, when we are no longer looking through a glass dimly, but we are face to face with Christ (I Corinthians 13:12) steeped in His glory.

John gives us a glimpse of what we have to look forward to. He writes of a radiant throne, encircled by a rainbow, and surrounded by elders. In front of the throne, a sea like glass, and flying around the throne angel beings, ever declaring the Holiness and mighty power of God. The beauty of the throne is only overshadowed by the glory of the One sits upon it. Whenever the angels begin to sing, the elders cast down their golden crowns in homage and worship.

One day, not too far in our future, we will hear the sound of the trumpet blast, watch as the door opens in heaven, and the believers are called home to meet the Lord in the air. Live expectantly, who knows how soon, before that day appears.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament
Ezekiel 20- Navigating Life

Amen

Revelation 3:14
“These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God”

What a beautiful and insightful way Jesus describes Himself to the church. He tells us three things about Himself.

First, He is the Amen. In the first chapter, He refers to Himself as Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. It is valuable to consider Jesus to be the end of the matter. When we are wrestling through things and trying to decide what the right path is, we should always acquiesce to the ways of God.

Second, He is the true witness. Many things speak to the nature of God. Nature reveals much of what God is like, while circumstances always seem to cloud our understanding of Him. If we want a clear vision of who God is, we should look carefully at Christ. He declared that to see Him was to see the Father (John 14:8).

Finally, He is the beginning of the creation. Now, that does not mean that He was the first of all things created, but that He is the cause of all creation. John tells us that all things were created by Him and nothing that was made was made apart from Him (John 1:3). The great force behind all His creation was His Word. We are told time and again that, “God said… And there was…” what great power is contained in the Word of God. The more you are in the pages of it, the more you will experience it in your daily life.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Ezekiel 17- I’ll Take The Low Place
Ezekiel 18- The Blame Game