Revelation 4-6

The View From Above

Beginning in Chapter 4 the scene changes from the churches on earth  to the throne in Heaven. Eighteen times in Chapters 2 and 3 the word church is used. It will not be used again until we get to Chapter 22:16. Many believe that this is evidence that when John heard the trumpet and was told to “come up here” this speaks of the rapture of the Church. I believe this to be true. What John is describing now is what will take place in Heaven when the Church is raptured which will be the event that marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

As John describes what he saw it is apparent that this is what the Tabernacle and the layout of the camps of the twelve tribes of Israel around the Tabernacle were patterned after. God’s throne is in the center. In the Tabernacle God’s throne was represented by the Most Holy Place where the ark was kept. From the throne of God flowed the Word of God, the Spirit and power of God, God’s provision, and mercy. The priest serving in the Holy Place represented God to the people and the people to God through worship, prayer, and sacrifice. Surrounding the Tabernacle was the camp of the Levites who ministered to the people and cared for the Tabernacle. In Heaven around the throne we find the twenty-four elders. Camped around the Levites were the twelve tribes of Israel. Three tribes are camped east of the Tabernacle, three more in the south, three in the west, and three in the north. Each group of three tribes was camped under the banner of the tribe that was to lead them. In the east Judah is the leader. Their banner is a lion. Ruben is the leader in the south. On his banner is a man. In the west is Ephraim. Their banner is a calf. Finally, in the north, the leader is Dan. On their banner is an eagle. We see the same images in Ezekiel 1 and 10. God was in the center of the camp and wherever He went the entire camp was to move with Him.

It is not surprising that Satan would try to counterfeit this structure. In Daniel 2 we read of four world leaders that will rise up and attempt to rule the world. They are seen as precious metals which man would value. In Daniel 7 we read of these leaders but this time they are described as beasts. This is because that is how they are seen from Heaven’s point of view.  Daniel saw one that was “like a lion,” one “like a bear,” “one like a leopard,” and one too frightening to describe. All of these rose from the sea. The sea is a symbol of the people of the world. Three of these have come and gone but the fourth one remains and will be influenced by the others. This one will be removed in the Great Tribulation.

In Chapter 5 we read of a book with seven seals. The book is the redemption contract of mankind who was sold into slavery to sin by Adam. On the outside of the book are seven seals. There is writing on both the inside and the outside of the book. On the outside was written the terms of the contract that would have to be met in order to remove the seals and take possession of what was stipulated on the inside of  the contract. In this case the redemption of man. In God’s Law there was a provision for the redemption of one who was enslaved, to be redeemed by a family member. This is why Jesus, even though God, had to become like us. In the Book of Ruth we see the process worked out and the contract made and witnessed to in Ruth Chapter 4.   

At first there seems to be no one in Heaven or on earth who can remove the seals from the book, that is, until an angel points out the Lion of Judah. He is Jesus our Lord, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The book is handed to Him and one by one He will remove the seals. With each seal that is removed there will be events that take place in the world and the Great Tribulation will begin.

In Matthew 3: 11&12 John the Baptist said, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. And His winnowing fork is in his hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor: and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” NASB

When the wheat is harvested the bundles of wheat are gathered and taken to the threshing floor where they are beaten and shaken until the kernels of wheat are removed from the stalk and the chaff. The winnowing fork is like a pitch fork which is used to remove the stalks that have released the wheat kernels. The wheat and the chaff are swept up, sifted and thrown up into the wind which blows away the chaff until only the kernels of wheat remain. As the seals are removed we can see the Lord’s winnowing fork in use clearing away that which is found worthless and the sifting process taking place.

During the Great Tribulation the Church is with the Lord in Heaven but Israel remains on earth. In Chapter 7 we read that there are one hundred and forty four thousand bond servants from Israel that are sealed and protected to be witnesses of Christ to the world during this time.  We will see them with the Lord in Chapter 14 and not one of them will be lost. They, and those who will be saved during the Great Tribulation, will be the ones from Israel who complete the task that was given them as outlined in Daniel 9:24.

During the Great Tribulation there will be a great threshing and it is not something anyone will want to go through as we read in Chapter 6:12-17.  There is still time to escape by accepting the forgiveness of sin that Jesus offers. He has paid the price for your redemption. If you give your life to Him you will be born again. You will become a new creation. It will be like the difference between the wheat that is gathered to be with the Lord and the chaff that will be burned in the fire. You can escape the great threshing if you give your life to Him now.  

Pastor Dave