Lake Region Bible Church

WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT THE CHURCH AND THE TRIBULATION? (Message #2/5 * Revelation 1:4-11) 03-08-2015

1. The Church in Tribulation

the 7 churches were partners with John: in the tribulation, the kingdom, & the patience endurance in Jesus


→ John is living in the tribulation: it has already begun (Rev 1v9)


→ Jesus describes this entire age as tribulation (e.g. beginning of birth pains, etc.; Mt 24)


→ the “last days” began with Christ’s 1st coming & end when He returns (Ac 2:17; 2Pe 3:8)


→ the 7 churches were to take to heart the whole book of Revelation (Rev 22:7)


→ How do we keep the words of the prophecies of this book?  By focusing on Jesus (like in last Sunday's message), and by recognizing how we follow Christ amidst His Lordship & suffering (He is the Lion who is victorious as the Lamb).


As Jesus is the Lion & the Lamb: so we are triumphant thru tribulation by keeping His prophetic-word.  As God's people we are protected & blessed amidst the suffering & death of the tribulation, from which we shall be redeemed unto eternal glory.  This is liken to God's sovereign protection reigning over Christ (the Lion & the Lamb) and His victorious-triumph thru the cross, the resurrection, ascension, and Second Coming. 


John hears a “Lion”                 John sees a “Lamb”     (Rev 5)

John hears a number: 144k     Sees a great multitude (Rev 7)

→ 144k Sealed b4 trib.       → Great Multitude come out of trib. (Rev 7)

→ Temple is Measured                            → Holy city Trampled (Rev 11)

→ 2 Witnesses prophesy      → They are Conquered/martyred (Rev 11)

→ Woman is Nourished               → Her offspring are attacked (Rev 12)

→ Saints names in Lamb’s book of life  → Conquered/martyred (Rev 13)


Summary: Victory is coming, but it will come amidst suffering. As Jesus is Lion who reigns as Lamb (victorious thru suffering), so the church is triumphant thru tribulation.  God's people are *measured & nourished even as they are trampled & attacked, etc. (*belong to God, protected by His presence).  God is giving us this message to encourage us, to keep our eyes on Jesus, and to know that amidst tribulation (& whatever is coming) we will be victorious by His grace & power.  Our call is to keep the words of the prophecy of this book.


2. The Tribulation & the End of the Age

● The 7 Seals, 7 Trumpets, & 7 Bowls

In Rev 5 there is a scroll that only the Lamb can open.  This represents the unfolding plan of God for ushering in His kingdom.  The scroll is described like a will in the Greco-Roman world of the first century.  The scroll is being opened because someone has died: His name is Jesus, and He is the executor of His own will.  The scroll includes events that are to take place and the promised inheritance for Christ and those who follow Him.  As the 7 Seals of the scroll are opened, we get a glimpse of the contents of the Scroll, which is further revealed by the 7 Trumpets & 7 Bowls, and the rest of Revelation.  Each group of 7 reveals horrifying things that happen in the tribulation (past, present, and future), described in apocalyptic (bizarre-symbolic) terms.


→ 7 Seals (1/4 destruction)

   1     2     3     4     5     6   .    .    .   7


→ 7 Trumpets (1/3 destruction)

                              1 2 3 4 5 6  .  .  .  7


→ 7 Bowls of God's Wrath (global destruction)

                                          1 2 3 4 5 6 7


Summary: with each group of 7, we are starting closer to the end of the age, and the destruction is getting worse as we get closer to the end.  It might be that the opening of the 5th seal (cry of the martyrs) initiates (corresponds with) the 7 Trumpets being blown (the Trumpets begin in Rev 8 with the prayer of the saints).  Also, the last 3 Trumpets (5, 6, 7) are woes (worse than Trumpets 1-4), perhaps corresponding with the 7 Bowls of God's wrath.


● Experience the message of Revelation

→ Our view of Jesus can be too tame (see Rev 1 & 19)


→ Our view of the gospel can be too weak (see Rev 11; cf. Rom 1:16)


Summary: Experience the increasing intensity of the 7 Seals, 7 Trumpets, & 7 bowls (this is the tribulation we live in and what is coming).  At the same time, be reassured and comforted by the "interruptions" of God's encouraging words. 

     The 7 Seals are opened (Rev 6), but there is an interruption between the 6th & 7th Seals (Rev 7).  We take a step back, and see that God has sealed his servants before the tribulation began, even as there will be a great multitude that goes thru suffering and comes out of the tribulation.  Then the 7th Seal is opened and the 7 Trumpets begin to blow (Rev 8-9).  But there is another interruption between the 6th & 7th Trumpets (Rev 10 & 11), where we see that God's people are both measured (protected) and trampled on, and the persecuted church has apocalyptic-gospel power, even as we are conquered & martyred. Then the 7th Trumpet is blown. 

     Before the 7 Bowls of God's Wrath begin, we get an extended interruption (Rev 12-15) where we see that God still reigns; He nourishes His people (the woman) even as we (her offspring) are attacked by Satan.  Then the 7 Bowls of God's wrath are poured out (Rev 16), but there is no interruption between the 6th & 7th Bowls.  The destruction is too intense and things are happening too fast.  The end is coming now! 


Conclusion: Experience the message of Revelation.  We are in tribulation; there is a greater tribulation coming.  The Lord Jesus reigns over all of these events as Lion and He is victorious as Lamb! 

 The Church in Tribulation

The chart above presents one view of how to understand the flow of thought & various themes in Revelation, with insights adapted from various Bible scholars, including: Greg Beale, Craig Blomberg, D. A. Carson, R.H. Gundry, Craig Keener, Robert Mounce, & Onesimus Ngundu.

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