Trinity Fourteenth Sunday Morning Prayer (5 September 2021) Revelation 8:1-5 and Jonah 4:1-11
Last week, me meditated about the characters of the people in Nineveh and the church of Laodicea. Based on them, we also meditated about God’s expectation on us to inherit eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. Today’s meditation is based on both our Old and New Testament readings, the prophetic book of Jonah 4 and the book of Revelation 8:1–5.
We know that Bible has books written by many authors by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God revealed the end time events to Apostle John when he was imprisoned in Patmos. This is the book of Revelation. Many Old Testament prophets also had visions about end time events and the second coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ. These visions are like a mystery to us and confusing. However, we can easily understand Revelation if we read it alongside the prophetic books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Matthew 24. It will also be easy to understand the book of Revelation when we know the sequence of the end time events.
Theologians classify the age of the earth into seven ages from creation to the Great White Throne Judgement.
- The first age ‘Age of Innocence’ is from the time of creation to the fall of Adam and Eve. The length of this age period was not mentioned in the Bible. Theologians believe that this could be between 80 and 200 years.
- The second age is ‘Age of Conscience’ which is from the fall of Adam and Eve to God’s covenant with Noah. The earth was destroyed when Noah was 600 years old. The length of this age could be around 1656 years based on people’s life span.
- The third age ‘The Age of Human Government’ is after the flood to the law given through Moses. The length of this period could be around 795 years.
- The fourth age ‘The Age of Law’ is from when the law was given through Moses to the day of Pentecost. Theologians calculate this age period to be around 1703 years.
- The fifth age is ‘The Church Age’ or ‘The Age of Grace’. This is from the Day of Pentecost to the day of rapture. During rapture, the church and the Holy Spirit will be taken away from this earth and the whole world will be given to Antichrist. We do not know how long this stage will be. We are living in this time period.
- The sixth age is tribulation and the great tribulation which is from the day of rapture to Armageddon war. The first three and a half years will be tribulation period. This will be a tribulation time for the world except Israel. The second three and a half years will be great tribulation period. During this time, tribulation will be to the entire world including Israel. Antichrist will sit on David’s throne and will project himself as Messiah. He will force Israelites to worship him. Jews believe that Messiah would come and same them from evil. At the end of this period, Jesus’ feet will stand upon the mount of Olives and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst and there shall be a very great valley. Antichrist and his army will fight against Jesus Christ, but Antichrist and his army will be defeated. Messiah will save Israelites from Antichrist. Tribulation and great tribulation period will come to end exactly after seven years with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and Armageddon war.
- The seventh age is ‘The Age of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom’. This is after the Armageddon war. During this time, Jesus will rule Israel for thousand years. This period will come to an end on the day of ‘The Great White Throne Judgement’. After Judgement, God will create a new earth and heaven. The old heaven and earth will be passed away (Revelation 21:1).
In today’s reading from Revelation, we read about the breaking of the seventh seal. We must know what happens before this to understand the context of this seventh seal. When we read the book of Revelation, we must also understand where the event is happening. Based on the verses, we should look if they are happening in heaven or in earth. First chapter of this book is the introduction. The second and third chapters are the seven letters to the seven churches in Asia minor and are events happening in earth. Chapters 4 and 5 happen in heaven. Theologians say the events in chapters 4 and 5 will happen after rapture. Tribulation will start in earth when the Lamb of God opens the seals.
- When the Lamb of God opened the first seal, John saw a man sitting on a white horse. He had a bow and crown and “he went forth conquering, and to conquer”. This will happen in heaven, but the consequences will be seen in earth. The colour white represents ‘Peace’ but “he went forth conquering, and to conquer”. The whole world will be given to Antichrist when he comes with the offering of ‘False Peace’.
- When the Lamb of God opens the second, third and forth seals, we see the consequences in earth.
- The breaking of the fifth seal will be in heaven. John saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
- When the sixth seal is opened, the events will happen in the earth. During this time twelve thousand from each tribe in Israel will be sealed by the LORD God, that is 144,000 people.
- When the Lamb of God opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. After half an hour, trumpets were given to the seven angels. The angel took the censer, filled it with fire of the altar and cast it into the earth. There were voices, thunderings, lightnings and an earthquake. When the first four angels blew their trumpets, one third of the world was destroyed. When the first four trumpets were blown, one third of the trees, water, living creatures in water, one third of human population, one third of the sun and moon were destroyed. John saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth. The key of the bottomless pit was given to him when the fifth trumpet was blown. Smoke locusts came upon the earth. They were given power as the scorpions of the earth have power. They did not destroy the green field but destroyed the people who did not have the Almighty Father’s seal in their foreheads. The destruction will be upon the followers of the beast and not on the 144,000 Israelites sealed by the LORD God. The four angels bound in the great river Euphrates will be set lose when the sixth trumpet is blown. Another one third of the humans were destroyed, but the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues did not repent not of the works of their hands (Revelation 9:20&21). The day of the LORD God will start with the seven trumpets. Two witnesses will come from heaven and do great things in the earth. Theologians believe that this event will happen during the great tribulation time, that is during the second three and a half years of Antichrist’s reign. When the two witnesses finish their testimony, they will be killed by the beast from bottomless pit. The whole world will see their dead bodies for three and a half days. The whole world will celebrate the death of these two prophets. When they hear the sound from heaven, they will ascend to heaven in clouds. When the seventh trumpet is blown, “there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). Finally, John heard great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. Theologians believe that this will happen during the end of Antichrist’s reign. Mystery Babylon will be destroyed. The Armageddon war will be during this time, followed by the seventh age which is ‘The Age of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom’.
When Jonah cautioned the people of Nineveh, they fasted, prayed, and turned to God. They repented from their evil ways. When the people in Nineveh turned to God, He showed His mercy and did not destroy the great city. Jonah was displeased and very angry because the city was not destroyed, which was not what he prophesised and preached. He said it was better for him to die than to live. The Lord God prepared a gourd and made it to be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. Jonah was glad. The next morning, God prepared a worm that smote the gourd and it withered. When the sun beat upon Jonah’s head, he fainted and wished in himself to die. He again said, it was better for him to die than to live. He was angry, even unto death. “Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”
Today, we are also receiving many cautions about the second coming of Jesus. The Holy Spirit convicts us to repent and turn to God. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. Are we listening to caution and confessing our sins? If we repent, we will receive mercy. Jonah was sent to Nineveh as a missionary. His work was to lead the people to repentance and save them from death. But he was not happy when the LORD God was merciful and did not destroy Nineveh. Are we encouraging or leading others to God? Like Jonah, are we angry on God about others? Is our life pleasing to God? Or are we swearing like Jonah that it is better to die than to live? Jonah did not grow the gourd but he was unhappy when the worm destroyed it and he faced physical difficulty. The Lord God created all humans and He does not rejoice when they perish. He showed His mercy when they repented. Jonah could not accept the withering of the gourd but was not bothered about the death of sixscore thousand persons. What is our attitude to those around us whom we classify are sinners? Do we want them to repent and be saved? Or do we want them to be punished for their deeds? Jesus shed His blood on the Cross so all humans will be saved and inherit eternal life. Are we leading those around us to eternal life?
In Revelation 7:9, John saw a great multitude, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. Verse 14 says that they had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb of God. Are our robes washed in the blood of the lamb of God? Will we be in the multitude in the kingdom of heaven? 1 John 5:4&5 say, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” We are expected to overcome the world and the deceiving spirits that lead us astray. Revelation 2 and 3 also promise many rewards to those who overcome:
- Revelation 2:7 says, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God”
- Verse 11 says, “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death”.
- Verse 17 says, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it”.
- Verses 26&28 say, “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And I will give him the morning star”.
- Revelation 3:5 says, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels”.
- Verse 12 says, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name”.
- Verse 21 says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne”.
- Finally, Revelation 21:7 says, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son”.
God created us to overcome the world and be with Him forever in the kingdom of God. If the Lord God did not expect us to overcome temptations following Holy Spirit’s Guidance, He would not have mentioned these rewards. Today, where is our focus? We no need to worry about the end time events because we will be with Jesus when He comes to receive the church as His bride. Are we listening to the Holy Spirit who is the best teacher? Are we aiming to be with Jesus so we are not judged during the great White Throne Judgement?
May the LORD Jesus fill us with His heavenly knowledge and wisdom. May He strengthen us to overcome to receive our reward in heaven. May He guide us in the path of righteousness to inherit our eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. May the LORD God help us to win many souls for the kingdom of God. Luke 15:10 says “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” May we rejoice along with heaven when souls are added to the kingdom of God. Amen!