Good morning everybody, a happy almost Thanksgiving to you. I was thinking of the rapture is going to happen this Friday [laughter] the Lord has to kind of work harder getting us off the earth [laughter]. I’m not saying it’s going to happen this Friday, it’s a what if thing. Those are the weird things I spend my time thinking about.
We’re in this morning the Book of Revelation, chapter 19 and verse 7, as the title of our message this morning is as follows: Focus on Jesus. Jesus, of course, is the whole point of history and it’s easy, very easy for us to get our eyes off of Christ onto other things, even in the church world we do that so easily and as we’re going to see from our passage today so inappropriately.
We are at that point in the Book of Revelation where that seventh bowl judgment, that final judgment has been poured out upon the earth. One of the things that happens, as you well know by this point, is the destruction of Babylon and so we went into sort of a long parenthetical break in the chronology as an angel was explaining to John all about Babylon, past, present and future. And now that that long parenthetical break in the chronology is over we’re finished, as I like to say, babbling on about Babylon. It must have been seven, eight nine sermons, something like that, on the subject of Babylon. And so the whole discussion of Babylon we leave behind, we saw Babylon the city religiously, chapter 17, Babylon, the same city commercially, chapter 18, and last week we saw really a party in heaven as heaven itself, while earth was mourning, heaven itself was applauding and praising the Lord for the final destruction of that city, because now there’s nothing left to impede the coming of the kingdom to the earth. Satan’s kingdom has been toppled!
And so this morning we come to chapter 19, beginning at verse 7 where we are now at the very end of that tribulation period. What is going to happen as the tribulation period is reaching its venous or its climax now that the judgments have already been poured out upon the earth. So we can divide Revelation 19, the rest of the chapter, as follows: Number one, there’s a supper in your future, the marriage supper of the Lamb, verses 7-9.
[Revelation 19:7-9, “ Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.  Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”]
Number two, verse 10, you’ll see John responding to the revelation. And then number three we’re going to see actually the second advent of Jesus Christ, verses 11-16. And then there’s a terrible supper that happens, it’s called the supper of God, verses 17-18, and finally the chapter is going to end, verses 19-21 with Jesus returning, and finally incarcerating the beast and his armies and the false prophet. Now don’t panic, we won’t get to all that today But at least you can see the broad strokes of what’s happening here in Revelation 19 as the tribulation period is now reaching its conclusion.
Notice first of all the supper that’s in our future, something called the marriage supper of the Lamb. Notice, if you will, Revelation 19:7. It says, “ Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage supper of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” I love hos this verse begins with “rejoice and be glad.” I can’t think of a better time on our calendar to implement those commands than this week as we’re gathering as families and friends in our own individual homes and so forth, celebrating really what our pilgrims celebrated, the good hand of God upon us and the many things that he has given us materially in terms of liberty, economics and even if people around the world don’t experience those things by trusting in Christ they are given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. And so there’s a lot to be thankful for… AMEN!
You know, there’s a lot of Christians out there and they think they get extra brownie points from God by being miserable. They think miserable is somehow spiritual. But you don’t find that at all in the Bible and in fact, this is of course not to make light of suffering that people through, but the Christian is always to be a person of being on beat, being optimistic, being joyful. In fact, that’s what this week coming up is all about, and in fact if I’m reading my Bible correctly the people that are miserable are the religious people, the Pharisees. Jesus said in Matthew 6:16, “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. [Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”] Now there’s nothing wrong with fasting but this week we’ll be doing some feasting. And Paul did say buffet your body, I might translate that differently, not fail your body this week.
Jesus continues and he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, they have their reward in full.” You know, there’s nothing spiritual about being unhappy, being miserable because we have Jesus inside of us; we have the Prince of Peace living in us and we know exactly how history is going to end. So many people are distraught by the world, distraught by circumstances. I know we all go through very heavy circumstances but our attitude should be an attitude of gratitude constantly. We should be sort of like a magnet that draws the world to ourselves not through our religiosity and unhappiness but because we have something that the world can’t figure out why we have it. It’s called the joy of the Lord.
And you see that there in verse 7, “Rejoice and be glad,” and it goes on there in verse 7 and it says, “give Him the glory.” Who does the glory really belong to? It belongs to God. In fact, Isaiah 42:8 tells us very clearly that God will not share his glory with another. [Isaiah 42:8, “I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.”] In Daniel 5:23 concerning a man named Belshazzar who God was about to judge, God said this through Daniel in Daniel 5:23, “…But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.” Think how many people there are on this planet that have lived out their whole life expectancy and they’ve just acted as if God doesn’t exist, not understanding that their very life (as the passage says) and their very breath, and their very ways are in God’s hand and yet they will not give God the glory He deserves.
So as these events unfold we have specific commands there in verse 7 about rejoicing and being glad and giving Him the glory. Why is that? Because there’s something in our future called the marriage of the Lamb, in this case it’s the marriage supper of the Lamb. He says here “the bride has made herself ready.” Now we know who the bride is, the bride is us! The bride is the church, Jesus analogizes the relationship that He has with the church to groom and bride now to become husband and wife, Ephesians 5:22-33. [Ephesians 5:22-33, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.”]
And so if you want to see what’s directly in your future as the bride of Christ you would spend some time looking at not just verse 7 but verses 8 and 9. Verses 8 and 9 are the culmination of two powerful prophetic realities that are about to become yours. The first is something called the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. According to our understanding of the end times there will be a rapture, we will be taken into heaven, taken into the Father’s house for seven years, that’s the event that concludes the church’s earthly program and then we will return with Christ at the end of that seven years. We have been in heaven with Him for seven years and we return with Him at the end of the seven year period. That’s what’s being described here, where will rule and reign alongside of Him under His delegated authority. That is our future. So we go up, we’re there in the Father’s house for seven years and then we come right back down.
But what happens during that seven year time period as the tribulation judgments are being poured out on the earth? What is our future? We’ve been taught many times that we are not appointed unto wrath but we will not be here during this time period so what are we going to be doing exactly. Seven years is a long time, there must be some sort of teacher for us and you see it spelled out here, the end process of it, of something called the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. During this seven year time period we will be exposed to an evaluation. This evaluation is not to judge sin, sin has already been paid for by Christ and the fact that we are relying or trusting in Him means that our sin debt is no longer held against us. John 19:30, Jesus said “It is” what? “It is finished!”
This particular evaluation that I’m speaking of here is not to determine salvation, salvation is yours the moment you trust Christ, John 5:24. [John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”] The evaluation that’s spoken of here and it’s largely mostly developed by the Apostle Paul is a judgment not to punish sin or to determine salvation, but it’s rather to give or not give rewards.
All Christians will be in heaven but not all Christians apparently will be equally rewarded in heaven. Paul and other New Testament writers talks about five crowns either given or not given to individual Christians, based on what? Based on how they allowed the Lord to express Himself through them right now, during their earthly pilgrimage. You have the incorruptible crown given to the believer that gains mastery over the flesh, the crown of rejoicing given to the soul winner, the crown of righteousness for the believer that endures trials, and the crown of glory to the believer that faithfully shepherds God’s people, and the crown of righteousness simply for longing for the appearing of Jesus. God apparently is in the rewarding business.
When is this judgment going to take place? We’ve had in depth teaching on this so I won’t go into it in depth but just by way of summary it takes place after the rapture. Where? In heaven! Who? All church age believers. Why? To give or not give rewards. What’s it analogized to? An athletic contest of stewardship and a building. And how are we going to be judged? Individually as stewards of what God has given us. What was our motive for service? And beyond that as we serve the Lord what do we rely on for our power? Is it just an exercise in the flesh or did I really allow the Lord to express His grace through me as I drew from His resources and not my own. All of that comes out interestingly enough, at this Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. And consequently the church that has been with the Lord in heaven for seven years has been rewarded because it talks here not about the transferred righteousness of Jesus Christ; what it talks about is the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. In other words, the Bema Seat Judgment has already past, it’s already taken place. This is what was happening in heaven what we read about in the Book of Revelation, the judgments that were being poured out upon the earth.
So clearly we have the transferred righteousness of Christ, no doubt about, but this is talking about something different; this is talking about the church rewarded already as she returns to the earth. I like the way Samuel Hoyt puts it. He says, “To overdo the sorrow aspect of the judgment seat of Christ is to make heaven hell.” People that turn this into some sort of punishment, or some kind of punitive damages of some kind, they’re turning heaven into hell but he also says, “To under do the sorrow aspect” sorrow meaning you sort of look back at your life and wonder what could have been, “To under do the sorrow aspect is to make faithfulness inconsequential.” [The Judgment Seat of Christ in Theological Perspective,” Part 2, Bibliotheca Sacra, electronic media.”]
The most important thing that you can do with your life is to trust Jesus as your Savior because that determines your destiny. Now many people have this idea that okay, I’m saved, eternally secure, assurance of salvation, so I’m just going to live how I want to live. I wouldn’t do that if I were you because choices of that nature will come out, not to determine your salvation, that’s already solved, but to determine degrees of reward in heaven. In fact, we don’t have time to look at them all but if you look at the Scriptures as you see them at the top of the screen, Revelation 3:11, 2 John verse 8, other passages we could quote, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, there is the prospect of the believer forfeiting rewards at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.
[Revelation 3:11, “I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” 2 John verse 8, “ Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;  but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”]
Because if I’m understanding my Bible correctly we receive these crowns and what exactly do we do with them? Revelation 4:10 says we cast them at His feet. [Revelation 4:10, “the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne,”] To pay Him back? You can’t pay Him back. To earn salvation? You can’t earn salvation. You say why would you do it? You would do it and want a crown because it gives you a capacity out of gratitude to glorify Jesus Christ, not to earn salvation but based on what He has done for you. And so there we all are in heaven, taking our crowns and casting them down by Christ’s feet. And would it not be somewhat embarrassing to have a Christian who doesn’t have anything in their hand? We don’t want to be in that position. And so Paul makes it very clear that this evaluation is in our future and this is his basis for warning the whole carnal Corinthian church. I mean, what a group that was! How would you like to be the pastor of the first church at Corinth; that’s an assignment that I wouldn’t want.
And what does Paul say as he looks at their carnal behavior? He doesn’t say these are not Christians. He never says that in the whole book! What he says is don’t you understand that we will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ where you are forfeiting through carnality as a Christian the potentiality for rewards. And here the church is portrayed as returning with Jesus having been already rewarded. And that is an event that is in our future, yet future.
Now, there’s something else that’s going to happen, the completion of something called the marriage of the Lamb, the last step being the supper. Take a look if you could at Revelation 19, and notice if you will verse 9. “Then He said to me, write blessed are those who have been invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb and he said to me these are true words of God.” You’ll notice this expression “write,” that’s John’s job description, going all the way back to Revelation chapter 1 and verse 11, where he was told to write this vision in a book and write what he would see and send it to the seven churches. [Revelation 1:11, “saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”]
Notice that the Holy Spirit, the Lord, keeps telling John to keep doing what he’s doing, write it down, which is why we have the Book of Revelation. So write these things down and then he makes a statement here, “Blessed.” Write “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” Now there is in the Book of Revelation seven beatitudes where you’re going to find that expression “Blessed” which is a seven fold repetition of the Greek word makarios, the same word used in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers,” etc. The word “blessed” is used seven times in the Book of Revelation and so I’m very appreciative of Dr. John Walvoord’s commentary on the Book of Revelation where he keeps reminding us at each point of these seven blessings.
In case you’ve forgotten we’re at blessing number four. The first four we’ve already read. “Blessed on the reader and heeder of the Book of Revelation. God promises to bless a person that just reads this Book and takes it to heart. The second blessing was upon the tribulation martyrs, chapter 14. The third blessing was on the spiritually prepared at the end of the tribulation period. And now makarios comes up again where we have a fourth blessing on those that are invited, those that are participating in this supper, this marriage supper of the Lamb.
Now if you want to understand God’s future program of the church you have to understand the steps in a Hebrew wedding. If you understand the steps in a Hebrew wedding you’ll understand exactly what your past and future are in God. This is not for Israel, this is for the church, the bride of Christ. When a Jewish young man and woman got married how did it work back in the time period in Judaism in Israel, the time period that the Bible was written in? Ten steps!
Number one, marriage covenant. The groom initiated and the covenant was established upon payment for the bride, and the two of them drank from the same cup.
Step number two, the bride is set apart exclusively for that man. That’s the whole significance in a marriage ceremony when the bride comes down the aisle dressed in white, it’s symbolizing her purity and that she is a woman spoken for, set aside for her future husband.
Number three, the bridal chamber is prepared where the groom separates from his bride and returns to his father’s house to prepare the bridal chamber. Interesting!
Step number four is the betrothal period or the loyalty test. As the two are separated is the husband, the future husband, is he going to be faithful to his bride. Is the bride going to be faithful to her future husband or is she going to be (or he going to be) in all these dating websites while the two are separated? And it’s somewhat interesting, the whole subject of purity, the loyalty test. Now when you understand this, you start to understand why Joseph is a little bit upset when he finds out that Mary is pregnant. I mean, would you believe that the Holy Spirit impregnated her if you were Joseph? I mean, I don’t think I would believe that so an angel has to come to kind of clear everything up because the betrothal test, number four, almost broke up that relationship.
Number five, the bride is retrieved, the groom returns at an unknown time preceded by shouts with escorts or friends to retrieve the bride.
Number six, the two are hidden in the father’s house, not for eight days, not for nine days, not for six days, but for seven days where three things will transpire.
Number seven, the bride will undergo a ritual cleansing prior to the wedding.
Number eight, they will meet during the wedding ceremony, the father’s assembled guests in a private wedding ceremony.
Number nine, the consummation of the marriage.
And then number ten the two, after seven days, emerge from the father’s house and they are publicly presented to the world as husband and wife and there’s a giant feast.
Does any of this sound familiar? I mean, you ought to see prophetic parallels here. Let’s go through these. Number one, the groom initiated, the covenant established upon payment for the bride, the two drank from the same cup. It sounds an awful lot like what Christ did for us, how He initiated the relationship and called us unto Himself and the drinking of the same cup is communion. And the payment for the bride is the debt that Jesus accomplished for us on the cross two thousand years ago.
Step number two, the bride is set apart exclusively for the husband (that’s us right now). We are a woman spoken for, we have been positionally set aside for God. That’s why there’s so much in the Bible about maintaining the purity of the church.
Number three, the groom separates from the bride and returns to his father’s house to prepare the bridal chamber. Now you ought to think in the back of your mind about John 14:2, that’s exactly what Jesus said. “ In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” So this number three is talking about Christ’s 2,000 year separation from the church which began with His ascension back into heaven. And what’s He doing in heaven? What’s He doing in the Father’s house? According to John 14:2 He’s preparing the bridal chamber.
So number four, what’s happening now? We’re in the middle of the loyalty test! And this is the basis of our reward or lack thereof. Not salvation, because the price has already been paid by Jesus. But during this time of separation are we going to be loyal to Jesus or not? That’s why James 4:4 calls the believer moving into false doctrine and worldliness, James 4:4 calls that adultery. It’s like flunking the loyalty test. [James 4:4, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”]
Now in this age of separation how in the world do you remain loyal to Jesus Christ? There’s two ways to do it—orthodoxy, orthopraxy. Orthodoxy, correct belief, orthopraxy, correct practice. You become unorthodox in your beliefs and unorthodox in your practice then it’s akin to a violation of the loyalty test. And exactly how we’re doing during this time of separation, during this loyalty test, is the basis of the Bema Seat Judgment of rewards. Do you see that?
Which takes us to number five, eventually the bride is retrieved, the groom returns at an unknown time preceded by a shout with escorts to retrieve the bride. I hope you’re thinking about John14:3 because that’s exactly what Jesus said. I’ll read verse 2 since I butchered it earlier, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” Verse 3, But “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” What is that? That’s the rapture of the church. It’s what Paul is unfolding in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
[1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “ But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.]
It’s the shout; isn’t the rapture accomplished “with a shout of the voice of an archangel”? I would assume that angels as escorts are returning with Christ to retrieve us, to take us where? To take us to the Father’s house for seven years while He’s been separated from us for two thousand years preparing that heavenly dwelling.
Number six, the bride and the groom are hidden in the Father’s house, not for six days, not for eight days, but for seven days. What would that be a reference to? That would be a reference to the church in the Father’s house in heaven for seven years. Why seven years? Because that is the length of the tribulation period. That is the seventieth week of Daniel as we have studied.
Number seven, the bride is cleansed, the bride undergoes a ritual cleansing prior to the wedding. What is that? That’s the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ where Christians are either rewarded or not rewarded based on how they did during the loyalty separation time. Did they, under God’s grace and resources practice orthodoxy and orthopraxy during that time or did they not? See all that comes out at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.
Number eight is the wedding ceremony. There’s a meeting with the Father’s assembled wedding guests, a private wedding ceremony in the Father’s house. What is that speaking of? There was a question that came up in angelology, the Sunday School class we taught today, about where are the deceased in Old Testament ages that were believers? Well, they went to a place called Paradise. Paul, when he was caught up to the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 12, was taken into Paradise. So my understanding is that Paradise was brought into the presence of God, with all of those souls of Old Testament believers. What does that mean? It means following the rapture you’re going to meet Daniel, Job, Noah, and everybody else that’s mentioned in the Old Testament that’s a believer. Won’t that be something? Hey Job, I’ve got a question here about your book, this has always bothered me, [laughter] can you…. I mean, it’s incredible the future that God has for us. We’re meeting with these assembled guests.
Then there is the consummation of the marriage where we are with Jesus, the bride and groom consummate the marriage, that’s Ephesians 5:27. [Ephesians 5:27, “That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless”]
And then number ten there’s the marriage feast where the two, husband and wife, bride/groom are now husband and wife and they are now unhidden. Colossians 3:3-4 describes how the time is coming in history where our relationship with Christ will be unhidden. [Colossians 3:3-4, “ For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”] It’s the formal announcement on the earth following the second advent of Christ where we are not formally married to Jesus Christ. That’s the last and tenth step.
What you’re seeing there in verse 9 is step number ten. See that? All of these other things have transpired and the only thing left is a public feast on the earth. And people say well how do you know it’s on the earth? Well, I think it’s on the earth because in these verses Jesus is coming back to the earth. Beyond that there’s another feast that it’s contrasted with, the supper of God which is horrible; it’s dealing with the deceased bodies that fought Jesus when He came back and there’s so many dead bodies that the vultures (we’ll see that later in Revelation 19:17-19) gather to consume corpses of all the dead bodies that Jesus judged at His second coming.
[Revelation 19:17-19, “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God,  so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”  And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.”]
That latter feast is on the earth. So I think I’m concluding that the former feast, step number ten, also takes place on the earth. In fact, it’s a pretty good application… what feast do you want to be part of? Do you want to be part of that supper of God and run the risk of being one of those corpses that the vultures gorge on? Or do you want to be in step number ten of the marriage supper of the Lamb? Well how do I move my membership from one feast to another? You trust Christ as your Savior in this age. If you trust Christ as your Savior in this age you’re going to be in verse 9; if you don’t trust Christ as your Savior you run the risk of being in verses 17-19.
You might recall that when we studied the Book of Daniel that there’s this strange seventy-five day period before the kingdom comes. There’s a strange seventy-five day interval in between the second advent of Christ at the end of the tribulation and the coming of the kingdom. And a lot of things you might recall from that sermon are going to happen during that peculiar seventy-five day interval, perhaps one of those things is this feast on the earth, this marriage supper of the Lamb that we’re speaking of here.
Well gee whiz, pastor, this just sounds like a bunch of fantasy stuff to me! Are you really saying you believe all this stuff? Well look there at the end of verse 9, what does it say? “And he said to me these are the true words of God.” This is going to happen exactly like God said it would happen! And so all of these things that may seem sort of peculiar to us, a marriage custom from another culture, but as God is my witness I’ll guarantee you this much, everting that God says, even if my interpretation of what He says is not completely accurate, that’s not even the important thing. Everything He said is just going to happen exactly like He said it was going to happen You say well why do you believe that? I believe that because this Book has a track record that, we’re getting ready to celebrate Christmas, I can point to Micah 5:2 which pinpoints seven hundred years in advance the exact city that Jesus was going to be born in. It’s not even going to be in Jerusalem, it’s not going to be Bethlehem up north in Galilee, it’s going to be Bethlehem Ephrata’s, which doesn’t even appear on most maps in that time period. An unknown city—that’s exactly what happened.
I could go through countless prophecies that were fulfilled in meticulous detail and the last time I checked the Holy Spirit does not switch horses in midstream. He doesn’t say oh, those other prophecies happened exactly like God says but these are more, you know, loosey goosey type things. That’s not how the Holy Spirit works, that’s not how the Holy Spirit has revealed Himself. And so consequently these things are directly in our future. Number one, the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ following the rapture, and number two, God executing all of the steps of the marriage process, all ten steps that I’ve tried to explain and what is being described here in verse 9 is step number 10.
Now if you received all of this information what would you do? You’d be astounded by it, wouldn’t you? In fact, you might be tempted to be so astounded by this that you would worship not God but the instrument through which the divine revelation came. And that takes us into number two here on our outline for Revelation 19. John responds to the revelation. Look at what John does. Poor John, on the Island of Patmos who thought his best days were behind him, left out there to die, because this guy had a hard time dying, they tried several times to boil him in oil, he wouldn’t die, a stubborn old man I guess. And so finally they just threw him out there on an island called Patmos, which is directly… everything we know about Greco Roman history that’s exactly what Domitian did to people. Nero cut your head off; Domitian would just maroon you on an island.
And John probably was out there in the middle of nowhere, I’m hoping at some point in my life I can get to that island on one of my trips, I haven’t been there yet, but folks tell me that have been there that there’s not a lot out there. So he probably thought oh, God has forgotten me, God has no more purpose for me. Some of you may be thinking that about your life but here’s the reality of the situation—with God you never know what’s coming around the corner. John’s greatest book, I would argue, his greatest insight was about to happen. And that’s why it was the design of God to put him on that island so that he could receive this truth that he is receiving, write it down, somehow send it to the seven churches, and we, two thousand years after the fact can read it and study it and be blessed by it and be edified by it and encouraged by it.
Christian, is there breath in your lungs? Is your heart beating? If so then God is not finished with you yet. You may not know what’s around the corner but you don’t need to know—God knows! And God, as long as we’re alive still wants to use us. And that’s what’s happening here with John. The problem with us is we so easily get our eyes off of Christ and onto the instruments that God is using.
Verse 10, “Then I” that’s John, “fell at his feet to worship him.” That’s the angel. “But he said to me,” that’s the angel, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold to the testimony of Jesus; worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” [Revelation 19:10]
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist in the Bible to understand that God doesn’t like idolatry. In fact, the first two commandments of the ten commandments, the Decalogue, deal with idolatry. God says don’t have any gods before me, don’t have any graven images. That’s why God is so angry with Aaron, the high priest, who is supposed to be teaching this and is leading the nation, in Exodus 32, into building a golden calf. And isn’t it interesting that when you get caught in sin, you have a tendency to sort of blame it on somebody else. I love… I don’t “love” but I get a chuckle out of Aaron’s explanation, well, you know, Moses was up there for forty days and he had all this jewelry and stuff and he just kind of threw it into this pot to melt it and this cast just sort of popped out of nowhere. Sounds a little like us, doesn’t it, when we get our hands caught in the cookie jar.
Matthew 4:10 says, “… You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” We’re not here to serve a board, we’re not here to serve a church, we’re here to serve Jesus Christ. And John, of all people knew this because John has a paper trail, he didn’t just write the Book of Revelation, he wrote 1, 2, and 3 John and at the end of his first little epistle he writes these words: “Little children,” 1 John 5:21, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” And what did John just become here, in Revelation 19:10? He became an idolater. Why is that? Because we have studied the chain of communication through which the Book of Revelation was handed down. We developed it in prior sermons. Here’s how it works. It went from the Father (the vision) to the Son, to an angel, to John, to a book, to a reader or preacher, and then to the listener or those in the seven churches. And John is so enthralled by what he has just received that he doesn’t worship God through whom the vision came ultimately, the source of it, he worshipped an angel who delivered the vision.
I mean, this is the guy that said, “Little children, keep yourself from idols.” [1 John 5:21] He just became an idolater. And if that weren’t bad enough he does it twice because when we get to Revelation 22:8-9, he does the exact same thing. [Revelation 22:8-9, “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.  But he said to me, “Do not do that.”] And the angel again says stop it! Knock it off, I’m a fellow servant.
So there obviously is something deep within us that causes us to either receive glory we don’t deserve or to worship things that are just instruments. Did you know Paul, the apostle, had this same problem? The problem being people worshipping Paul instead of God. It’s all in your Bible in Acts 14:11-18
It says, “When the crowds saw what Paul had done,” a miracle under God, “they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.” This is what the pagans were doing now, they’re worshipping Paul and his team.  “And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.” I mean, he’s the chief speaker he must be a chief god, right?  “The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.  But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out  and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to serve the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.  In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways;  and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”  Even saying these things, with difficulty they” that’s Paul and Barnabas] “they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.”]
What a warning to us how distracted we can be when we begin to ascribe merit to the creature rather than the Creator. John, who warned of idolatry is now becoming an idolater where he’s worshipping an angel, who’s just the newspaper boy. That’s all the angel was, he was just handing off the vision, he didn’t write the article, or the newspaper, he didn’t even edit it, he just handed it off. John can’t believe what he’s received so he starts to worship this angel to the point of rebuke, not once but two times. It’s very easy to get our eyes off of Christ and onto the servants that God uses. That’s why I’ve entitled this message, I’m not even sure if I gave you the title earlier, Focus on Jesus.
James Dawson has Focus on the Family, all well and good. Let’s upgrade that a little bit, Focus on Jesus. It’s about Jesus Christ. It’s not about a man, it’s not about a method, it’s not about a movement, it’s about Jesus Christ. And how easy it is when somebody blesses you to forget that and to turn the attention to a human which is even less than an angel. And we become idolaters, without even realizing it, that fast. And how if and when God uses you how easy it is to say “you know, I deserve a little bit of credit.” Gee, pastor, we really enjoyed your sermon. You know, I really worked hard on that and I went to school a long time to learn some of this stuff and I put a little bit of sweat and guts into that and you know, so what? So what if I just take a little bit off the top for myself.
Well, Isaiah 42:8 says very clearly that God does not share his glory with another. [“I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42:8] Are you the subject of compliments from people who have been blessed through you? Be real careful about that. One of the best things I ever learned to do in that circumstance is just say well, praise the Lord! PRAISE THE LORD! Praise the Lord that he could take a donkey and speak through him today. So it gets the glory off yourself and right back to Jesus Christ where it belongs.
You know, everybody today is talking about the whole Comedy West situation, that’s all anybody wants to talk about, so I’ll say something about it. [Laughter] People are saying is he really a Christian and all of this stuff. I’m free grace in my beliefs, I accept his profession of faith, I believe he’s a Christian. Maybe I’m wrong on that but I don’t have any problem with that. The problem I have is taking a microphone and jamming it in his face and somehow making him the spokesperson for Christianity when he’s a few weeks old in the Lord. That’s the problem. The problem is the Christian church thinking we’ve got to put this guy in the spotlight as fast as we can because we need to capitalize on his worldly fame. Do you realize what you do to a person when you do that? You set them up for destruction because Proverbs 16:18 says first comes pride, then comes the fall. [Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”]
There’s a reason your Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:6 concerning leaders in the church, they must not be a new convert so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.” Is he saved? Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt but at the same time let the guy grow a little bit, let him have a few experiences in Christ and ups and downs that we all go through in terms of our character development. And let’s not make the person some sort of spokesperson for Christianity, some sort of leader for Christianity, because when you do that you go right against the Bible that gives us very stern and severe warnings about elevating somebody too fast.
And by the way, all of you at this church, as we put forward nominees in certain times of our cycle, business cycle I guess we can call it, elders and deacons, we ask you to confirm choices, what in the world would you look for? Well, here’s what I would look for if I were you. How long has that person been a Christian? What’s that person’s track record in Christ? And I would be very, very hesitant to be involved with any church that takes someone a few days old in the Lord and puts them into some position, any position, and consequently the person that’s a few days in the Lord in that position may be used by the Lord and they get all this acclaim and praise and a person with zero discipleship, zero progressive sanctification, zero time in Christ, they don’t know any better, they just collect a few compliments off the top, yeah, I am pretty good, aren’t I! And gee Lord, where would You be without me? And we set a person up for a fall.
This, of course, is what happened to Satan, as you know. That’s why it says, 1 Timothy 3:6, “not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.” What’s the fall? It’s pride comes before destruction, Proverbs 16:18. [Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” Proverbs 16:18 NASB] It’s played out over and over again in Christianity. It happens all the time yet for whatever reason we get sort of stunned by the moment and we want to elevate somebody, we want to become idolatrous. This is even what John is doing. So he is rebuked for this.
And I like the second part of verse 10, of course I like all of it and whether I like it or not doesn’t matter, does it? But from a personal perspective I love the end of verse 10, it says, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” [Revelation 19:10] I like that because I’ve run into people my whole Christian life who say I don’t really get involved with studying prophecy, it’s too controversial, it’s too divisive and they say it in kind of a spiritual I spend MY time in the Gospels because that’s where Christ is found, in the Gospels. May I just say to you that we love the Gospels, we teach the gospels, we’ve taught the Gospel of John for three years here, we were in John’s Gospel longer than Jesus had his earthly ministry we love the gospel so much. [Laughter]
But can I just say this to you, if your whole view of Jesus comes from the Gospels you have a lop-sided view of Jesus. You don’t know of a complete view of who Jesus is until you give yourself not just to the Gospel of John but to the other book John wrote at the end of his life, the Book of Revelation. Because what you learn in the Gospels is Jesus is the suffering Savior, praise the Lord for that. But in the Book of Revelation you learn He’s something more than that, He’s the ruling and reigning King who’s coming back to execute violent judgment on every person who has not trusted in His provision that He accomplished in His first coming.
See, we love the meek and mild Jesus, He had nowhere to lay His head, we love the manger scenes, but what about Him coming back with the rod of iron and sword protruding from His mouth whereby He will smite and strike the nations. What about that part of Jesus? You want to break up your dinner party this week? Talk about that part. [Laughter] Because the reality of the situation is that part is just as much part of Jesus as the suffering Savior. You know, we can get very imbalanced in our diet, can’t we. There are multiple food groups that you need to be healthy. If you just gorge in one part of the Bible and ignore the other parts you’re going to be malnourished as a Christian. God wants us to be fully nourished as His body and His bride and so we teach the full counsel of God’s Word.
That, to my mind, is one of the reasons we made a decision at this church Sunday morning sermon time that we teach the book verse by verse because if you teach the Bible verse by verse it leaves no wriggle room for the interpreter to skip, cut, edit, bounce around. And so you are confronted as a teacher to teach everything that God said. And there are countless times where I’m looking at the passage at the passage for the week and I’m saying Oh Lord, I hope these people know what’s coming? And Oh Lord, I hope you give me some grace to communicate this. And you get a sermon on some area of Scripture that you think will have zero impact perhaps, and then people will come up to you and they will say, you know, I really appreciated the fact that God spoke to me through that sermon that you gave and through that particular verse was exactly what I needed to hear. That happens to me all the time. And then I like to say well gee, you know, aren’t you lucky to have me as your pastor. [Laughter] And I practically break my arm patting myself on the back and the Lord taps me on the shoulder and says are you sure you want to do that?
And so we need a complete total picture of Jesus Christ and so we move away from the marriage supper of the Lamb to the response of John to it, and the rebuke that he received and now what follows is the second advent of Jesus Christ. What we will see described here is the quality of His return, verses 11-14. There are ten qualities there. And then number two, His activities once He returns, verses 15-16, there are five activities. You say how are you going to cram all that in in sixty minutes. I’m not, it’s too important to cut it and bifurcate it so this week I would just encourage you to read, in addition to your Thanksgiving stories, verse 11-16 where we’ll take a look next week at the second advent of Jesus Christ, what human history has been moving towards, and we see it predicted there.
Of course, the two suppers of God, which supper do you want to be involved in, the marriage supper of the Lamb or the terrible supper of God? How do you change your invitation from one to the other? It’s by trusting Christ as your Savior. Jesus stepped out of eternity into time to pay a price for us that we could never pay on our own. His final words on the cross were “It is finished.” There’s nothing left for us to do, thanks to His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, other than to believe or trust what He’s done. And that’s how you change your invitation from supper A or supper B I should say back to Supper A, away from the supper of God which is the supper of judgment to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
And you can change your invitation right now from one supper to another simply by trusting what Jesus has done. Trust is another word for believe, it means to rely upon, to depend upon. The Spirit convicts us of our need to trust in Christ as our personal Savior and through volition we respond to it, by relying upon the promises of Jesus and what He’s done for us. And that changes your whole future. And so if it’s something you need more explanation of I’m available after the service to talk. It’s not a matter of joining a church, walking an aisle, giving money, filling out a card. It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord when you trust Him for what He has done in your place.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for the Book of Revelation, grateful for John, grateful for what He went through and how his humanity comes out here and how you corrected him and how we can learn so much just by reading and meditating upon these ancient words. I pray that You’ll be with us at this church as we seek to not just complete the Book of Revelation but to walk in great thankful-ness to what You’ve done for us this week. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said…. Amen!