Study of The Book of Revelation
W. T. Russel (Tape #8)
Before we get into the fifteenth chapter, let's do a little recapitulation of what we have come to right now. If everyone who tries to understand the book of Revelation will recognize that it's the last book of the Bible, and it completes God's revelation to man. There is a woe pronounced upon anyone that tries to add or to take from it. The book consists mainly of the church built by Jesus, and really in the very beginning, we are shown the interest of the book by John writing to seven churches. In the writing to these seven churches, there is weakness displayed. Not only does he dwell with the weaknesses of the church, but he commends the churches for all that's good in them. Then he follows that up with promises assuring the churches that he walks in their midst. I believe that he does walk in the midst of the churches. Of course he's not here in person because he is at the right hand of God. He's here in the person of the Holy Spirit in every one of his churches. In this book, Jesus shows himself as having given his life but is alive forevermore. The agencies are shown which he has used in the past, present and future on earth and also the agencies in heaven to carry out his purpose. Revelation deals largely with the conflict between the true church and the false or counterfeit church. The devil tries to imitate and place something before the people of the world from a religious standpoint that looks like the true and real thing. He realizes it cannot have all error and get the people to believe it. Thus he has enough truth mixed with error to deceive the people. It started back early in this dispensation, and the formation of the counterfeit church is recognized about 250 or 251 A. D. There have been changes in it through the past centuries. However, it is still here although it is not the same. It is constantly changing. The Catholics have given up some of their main principles, and they will continue to do so. I believe they are forced to give up their principles by the preaching of the truth. The truth originated with God and was given to the church to preach to the world to make disciples. We see in the Book of Revelation the true church of Jesus Christ and the counterfeit church of the Devil. I'm going to say it's of the Devil because the Bible says the Devil gave the authority to begin with. He has been in charge of that movement ever since it started and is still in charge today. It is the Devil causing them to back down on their principles to appease the people today. The earthquake of the reformation shook the very foundations of the Catholic Church so they had to do something about it or go under at that time, and we will get to that later. The main thought I want you to keep on your mind is this last book of the Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ and his relationship to his church. The agencies revealed through his servant, John are to be used in the furtherance of the gospel and of the church's work that he's left in their hands in the world. Along with this is the continued warfare which is fought with the word of truth, not with guns and swords. Paul made this statement; we wrestle not against principalities, powers--earthly powers, earthly governments or civil powers. Our warfare has never been carnal which flesh and blood is. But ours is a warfare which is mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. I want to state that victory over the strongholds of the Devil is won by using instruments of warfare designed by God. The instrument of warfare to be used by the church is the sword of truth which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17 "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" Let me remind you again the church is still in the wilderness at this point in our study. In the fifteenth chapter we are going to find an introduction to what is called the Battle of Armageddon. That word just simply means the Hill of Megiddo. There have been many actual and real battles fought in that very spot. The Hill of Megiddo is where Gideon won the victory over the Midianites. Joshua won his victory on that Hill. If I remember correctly, there are at least eight decisive battles which were fought and won in the location referred to as Armageddon. In our continued study, I still contend that this is an analogue. The battles of the past fought and won on the Hill of Megiddo is an analogue for the battle this Book of Revelation talks about, and the war called the Battle of Armageddon. In other words, this is the antitype. The Battle of Armageddon is the spiritual side. Those eight battles fought on the Hill of Megiddo were natural. There were hundreds and thousands who died in battle. In this battle, it is the pouring out of the plagues upon the counterfeit church and her supporters and backers. This is done in answer to the prayers of the martyrs, but keeps in mind that it is done before the church comes out of the wilderness.
Chapter 15:1 "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." In this verse there are seven plagues poured out. We studied about the trumpets. Prayers were offered and were received in heaven, but the people were told to wait for a little season. As soon as their fellow servants had given their lives as they had, the prayers would be answered. Those prayers have been lingering around the throne of God all this time. But they are being answered in the pouring out of the seven last plagues--the vial of the seven last plagues upon the counterfeit church. There will be no more. Also notice it says God's wrath is filled up in them. These last seven plagues are designed for and sent upon the counterfeit church. It's wonderful to even think about the mercy and love of God. He so loved this world that he was willing to give and did give his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but has everlasting life. It's another wonderful thing that Jesus left the church in the world and invested her with power to preach the gospel of truth and to carry the good news of salvation to the whole world. Wonderful, yes it's wonderful that Jesus was that merciful, and God had that much love to have called out those who have preached the unadulterated gospel of the Son of God. Rather than give up the gospel invested to them by God, these preachers chose death. The blood of the martyrs down through the centuries has proven to be the seed of the church. All of that and more is wonderful in our eyes today. Yet there's coming a time when the wrath of God is going to be exposed and exercised. God is a loving God. God is a merciful God. God is a longsuffering God. His arms are stretched out today to a sinful world. One of these days his hand is going to be drawn back. The mouths of his servants are going to be closed, never to speak another word of the gospel again. The last call to the sinner is going to be made from the last pulpit of this world. The door of God's mercy is going to be closed against the world forever. God is going to pour out his wrath upon this sin-cursed world because he gave all that he had, and the very best that he had. They have rejected it and turned their backs on it. It went in one ear and out the other. Today it seems to me that we're just gathering in the fragments, the remnant. Why is it that we do not hear of revival meetings as we used to when there were scores of people saved? There were great revivals that would break out and go on for weeks, day and night. I can call to your attention in the effort of Brother C. B. Massey in Bowling Green when he went there to an old tobacco barn in Bowling Green and started a revival meeting. It went on and on and on. In that meeting, there were over a hundred souls saved by the grace of God. It proved to be the nucleus of the church of which I was a pastor from 1964 to l982. Why is it that we do not hear of scores and hundreds of people being saved throughout our country in this day? It seems to me the few that are left are now being gathered. Somebody will say, preacher how can you say that? Well don't you know that God knew from the very beginning who would hear the gospel in sincerity with an honest heart? He knew who would give heed to it and turn to Christ by faith and be saved. Why, of course, he knew all about that, my friend. To say he did not would be to limit his knowledge and wisdom, and I'll never do it. There may be only a few left out there who will be saved. Yet that doesn't give us any reason to stop, slow down, or relax our efforts in the least because that work is to be finished. We are to labor until it is finished, and when it is, and then God is going to pour out his wrath upon this sinful world. Paul said fire and brimstone will be rained from heaven upon the earth. That's going to take place here.
Chapter 15:2 "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God." The beast, as we have studied thus far, was to begin with paganized Rome. And when the head of pagan Rome died or was wounded to death, then there was brought back to life the very same principles that were exercised by pagan Rome in what is called the Holy Roman Empire. The spotted beast that we talked about in another chapter was the uniting of civil Rome with the Church of Rome. So we'd call it a political, ecclesiastical government. The head of this ecclesiastical government which we studied is the eighth. The eighth is not a nation, but he's of the seventh, and the seven was the Holy Roman Empire. The papal head or the head of the Roman Catholic Church is the pope. The word pope means papa or father. That is why they use it so much. Now I want you to get this analogue in the second verse. "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God." Now the analogue for that is the deliverance of the children of Israel out of the Egyptian bondage. You know one peculiar thing about Revelation; you can go back in the Old Testament and find an analogue for every symbol that is used in the book. We cannot understand it or be able to interpret it unless we find the type in the Old Testament that answered by the anti-type in the book of Revelation. I hope you understand the explanation given regarding these scriptures. What is the analogue for this sea of glass? The children of Israel were God's chosen people as a nation at that time. Today, the church of Jesus Christ is the espoused bride of the Son of God and his chosen people is the church just as it was during the time of Revelation. They are also distinguished from all others as a body. The children of Israel stayed in Egypt for 430 years, but God promised to deliver them from the bondage of Egypt with a mighty hand. And he did. When Moses and Aaron went to Egypt, God caused many miracles to be worked though Moses and Aaron before the Pharaoh of Egypt. There were ten plagues or ten incidents of miracles that were performed through Moses and Aaron. The plagues that followed them were upon the people of Egypt, their land, and their holdings. Seven of those ten were directed toward the Egyptians. Three of the ten didn't touch the children of Israel. So the seven last plagues are to be poured out upon the counterfeit church. This counterfeit church has fought the advancement of the truths held by the church Jesus left on earth. It has been used in many ways by the Devil in many nations to hinder and molest this truth. The Devil also has used those things even to take the lives of millions of the true saints of God. Moses and Aaron went to Egypt and worked the miracles through their hands. Of course the power was from God. Finally Pharaoh let the children of Israel go out of Egypt. With Moses as their leader, they were at the Red Sea when Pharaoh changed his mind. He was sorry he had let two million people leave his country. It is hard to conceive of two million leaving Egypt. Pharaoh then gets his armies together and follows them knowing they would be bottlenecked at the Red Sea. Yet in that bottleneck at the Red Sea is where God lead the Israelites. The Bible said they were led by a pillar of cloud in the daytime and by a pillar of fire by night. Exodus 13:22 "He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." God had been their leader up until that point. The Israelites were gathered at the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army behind. Some of them were clambering because Moses had led them out of Egypt, and they were trapped. Nevertheless, while standing on the bank of the Red Sea, Moses said, stand still and see the salvation of God. Stretching his rod over the Red Sea, it parted. The Bible tells us in the fourteenth chapter of Exodus that it was a wall of water on either side. I want you to get a picture of this. The children of Israel were out in the middle of the Red Sea with a pillar of fire behind them. The pillar stood between the Israelites and the Egyptians that were pursuing. It was darkness behind them. The Egyptians couldn't see where to go, but here is a wall of congealed water which is nothing but ice. The sea is frozen, standing upright with this pillar of fire behind the children of Israel giving them light as they crossed that briny deep. Get a picture of the brilliance of that pillar of fire as it glistened against that wall of ice on either side, and you'll get a picture of the victory that Jesus is talking about here in Revelation revealed to us by John. Just as the children of Israel were led across the briny deep unto victory on the other side, the enemy was drowned in the sea behind them. We see victory explained in this fourteenth chapter. The victory seen in this chapter in crossing the Red Sea is the work of God toward Israel as he promised in Genesis 15:14-16
Chapter 15:3 "And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." I mentioned earlier the Song of Moses. What are the words to that song? "Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." That was the song they sang giving praise to God who was giving them the victory he had promised. The victory includes us today. Thank God for the victory. I think of Paul when he considered his weakness. He talked about himself as a man for he still had that carnal mind. We still have it because God doesn't give us another mind when he saves us. He just gives us a different or holy disposition to the mind we already have. The carnal mind is still there. Paul said in Romans 7:19 "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." 7:20 "Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelled in me." 7:21 "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me." In other words it is not that man who is born again. It is not the inner man because in I John 3:9 he said, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remained in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." It is this outward man, not the inward man that does the sinning. Paul comes right down after expressing his weakness and says in body with a sinful nature. It's carnal, and we must fight a battle to live a life with which God is pleased. Paul said it is a continued warfare. When Paul asked the question, ".... who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" He said, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." So deliverance and victory over sin, Satan and the forces of evil that surround us in this world is through Christ Jesus. If you are in him and have him with you, you need not worry for the victory will be yours later on. We will win this victory through Christ, not ourselves.
Chapter 15:4 "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest." I want to say this. This truth in vision is backed up by a number of statements made in the New Testament, and one in particular is this: Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ to the glory of God. Every inhabitant of the world from the beginning to the end will bow here on earth and give honor and glory to God, confess before him, worship him as God and savior, or they will do it in Hell. It will do no good in Hell, but it can do them good here now.
Chapter 15:5 "And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:"
Chapter 15:6 "And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles."
Chapter 15:7 "And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who lived for ever and ever."
Chapter 15:8 "And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled." What is the analogue to that? If you have studied about the tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness, you'll note that they did not enter the tabernacle for service of the worship until the smoke filled that house. The smoke came from heaven, and it was a type of the indwelling of God in that house. This analogue goes back to the tabernacle in the wilderness. It is also followed up by the temple of Solomon, and that which was rebuilt by Herod, they entered it not until God's presence was made manifest by the smoke that filled the house. On the day of Pentecost the church was gathered together in prayer meeting for about ten days. There came into their midst as of the sound of a rushing, mighty wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. It was the coming of the Spirit of God which Jesus had promised to the church in John 14:16-18. He said in Acts 1:8 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Here is the filling of this house. He is talking about the church. I am saying today that the church of earth has been an instrument of God in carrying out his purposes. The pouring out of the plagues upon the counterfeit church and a wicked world is in answer to prayer.