Scripture reading for December 9th: Revelation 7
Between the opening of the sixth seal and the seventh seal, John saw two visions, one related to Jews and the other to believers from the nations who come to faith in Christ during the great tribulation. Jesus warned of this time of great tribulation, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again.” (Matthew 24:21)
In the first vision, John saw the four angels that had been summoned at the opening of the first four seals. They appeared to be standing at the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds of heaven. Another angel came with the seal of God and he ordered the four angels to hold back until he sealed or marked the servants of God. There were 144,000, and this was twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. These were Jews who had believed on Christ as Messiah. (Revelation 7:1-8)
In the second vision, John saw “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. The were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. The cried in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10) An angel told John that these in the white robes had come out of the great tribulation, and their robes had been made white by the blood of the Lamb! This great multitude from all nations had been martyred during this time of distress! They were enjoying God’s eternal presence! Worship was their response to God the Father and to Jesus Christ the Lamb!
Scripture reading for December 23rd: Revelation 14:1-20
“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:13) This is the second of the ‘beatitudes’ or ‘blessed’ statements found in Revelation. It is a curious ‘blessed’, speaking of the dead who die in the Lord as blessed. As we read this chapter, we come to understand why this is so.
John saw the Lamb and the 144,000 who were marked with His name standing on Mt. Zion. They were singing a new song that only they could learn. This special company had been redeemed from the earth and followed the Lamb. They were holy, having kept themselves from the defilement of sin on the earth, and set apart as an offering to Him. (Revelation 14:1-5)
Next John saw three angels flying in mid-air. The first angel was proclaiming the eternal gospel to those still on the earth. “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens and the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:7) God is faithful to warn all men of what is to come. The first and greatest commandment is to love God and worship Him only. Men must not worship the creation, but the Creator of all things. This angelic messenger proclaims this eternal gospel.
The second angel proclaimed the fall of Babylon. “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” (Revelation 14:8) Those living on earth were drunk on the wine of the evil world system of Babylon. God announced the fall of this system again during the great tribulation. He had done this through Jeremiah over 600 years earlier. (Jeremiah 51:45-49)
The third angel announced the warning to resist the beast and his mark or face the full fury of God’s wrath! The penalty was laid out for those receiving the mark, “He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.” (Revelation 14:10b-11a) This warning was to call the saints to remain faithful to Jesus and prepare for endurance. Death would be blessed for those saints who endured!