As we open to Revelation 6 and begin to work our way verse-by-verse through this amazing portion of God's Word, we all need to get our minds around the big picture of what we are doing. First, let me state the obvious but vital foundational truth:
God Wrote the Entire Bible
The Bible is a complete course of study in order to graduate with proficiency in knowing, serving and pleasing our Creator. God is the instructor, His textbook is the Bible, and the Degree we have enrolled in is “Knowing God.” There are 66 courses of study; one for each book of the Bible.
Every book God included is vital for some reason. Some we are drawn to more than others. Some are easier, some are well known, others are hard, mysterious, and much like the hardest classes we faced in school, we grit our teeth and plow through even when it is very hard, but:
All Scripture is Vital
If we were to continue to think of the Bible like going to grad school, we could see it as containing all the courses needed to graduate. Graduation from God’s grad school on Knowing Him would mean what 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) says. From this verse that we all know so well, look together at the emphasis God gives to us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
- All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,
- [All Scripture given] is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
- [All Scripture was given] that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Today we are opening to the final and most important of all the courses needed for graduation, it is the last book of the sixty-six of God's Word. If the Bible is like a good graduate school, then the last Book of the Bible, containing the last course God gave for us to know Him, may be perhaps the most important of all. Why would such a difficult book of the Bible be most important? Because God sent it last, as the closing wrap up to everything He ever said. That’s why:
We Need to See Each Piece as a Part of the Whole
The Bible was sent from God to us. But the Bible that we hold in our hands this morning is for many of us, much like a puzzle box that has 31,103 pieces. That is how many verses there are in the Bible; and that’s how many different little bits of the “big picture” that are spread across the sixty-six books of the Bible.
But God chose to end the course of His Bible with a summary, a wrap up of everything in all the other 65 parts of the book. One of the biggest tools to getting a grasp on the Bible is to see that:
- in the book of Revelation, God summarizes His plan.
- in the book of Revelation, God ties together everything He starts in all the other parts of the Bible.
- in the book of Revelation, God explains how all of the other parts of the Bible fit together.
It would be fair to say that Revelation contains the key to fitting all of the other pieces of the puzzle together, much like we turn to the front of the puzzle box and look at the complete picture. Then, with the entire scope of how everything fits, we can grab any individual piece and see a section it belongs to. We can also sort pieces into groupings and know that even if they are not completely pieced together, we know for sure what they are a part of in the big picture.
That metaphor of Revelation being the big picture on the front of the box is the key to meshing all those confusing 31,103 individual little verse pieces that we read each time we open to any part of God's Word.
Grab & Hold the Big Picture
There is One Author and One Plan presented in the Scriptures, and the Author Himself sends to us the key to fit it all together.
He sent the cover for the box, the last course of study, the summary of all that He has said, written so that we could understand what His plans have been since Creation, what they are at this very moment, and what they will be when we enter eternity to dwell with Him forever.
That is what a study through Revelation does: it ties together the whole Book, makes every piece fit, and shows us what God wants from us RIGHT NOW! That is why there is no book we could ever study that could more deeply impact our ability to know God than this book we are entering back into today. So here we go.
Please look with me in your Bibles at Revelation 6 and remember this is the last part of this graduate school of the Bible; this is God’s final written communication with humanity.
God’s Final Written Communication with Us His Children
The flow of Revelation is simple to see.
- Chapter 1 is Jesus Christ showing Himself in all His glory, like the Sun’s blazing light, as God the Son.
- Chapters 2 and 3 are His personal letters to the churches that bear His Name.
- Chapters 4 and 5 are His guided tour of the Throne Room of God Almighty.
- Revelation 6-19 is the Return of the King
Since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, all of human history has been hurtling towards this moment when the Creator and King of the Universe comes back to set things in order.
For thousands of years sin has run rampantly throughout the earth and the universe. Satan and his evil angels have done all they can do to thwart and disrupt the knowledge of God. Evil and misery have festered. Sin has permeated every part of human history. Death has taken every human but two.
But finally, in chapter 6, the Lord says, “enough” and starts the inexorable conquest back of sin’s reign and Satan’s rebellion. There is probably no part of Scripture more relevant to our times than this one. No portion of Scripture better frames the way we should see global events than this one. We are in the timeliest, most cutting edge truths of God's Word as we enter this first verse.
Six Truths from God to Each of Us
There are 29 words we each need to ponder in Rev 6:1, each word God has spoken is vital
- Revelation 6:1 (KJV 30)And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
- Revelation 6:1 (NKJV 29) Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.”
- Revelation 6:1 (NASB 29) Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.”
- Revelation 6:1 (ESV 28) Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!”
- Revelation 6:1 (NIV 28)I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!”
There are six simple truths in the sections of this first verse. They are:
- Truth-1: “Now I saw” means that the Events of Revelation are presented like one long chronological Event.
- Truth-2: “When the Lamb opened” reminds us that Jesus is the Central Character of Revelation.
- Truth-3: “One of the seals” reveals that God bases all of the Tribulation Judgments on the reality of His Title Deed as Creator & Owner of the Universe, held at His Right Hand.
- Truth-4: “And I heard” is a reminder that John the Apostle personally witnessed these events.
- Truth-5: “One of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder” emphasizes that God’s Judgment always issues forth from His Holiness.
- Truth-6: “Come and see” states to us that God wants us to know His plans, so He asked John to share them with us.
Note with me:
Truth-1: “Now I saw” means that the Events of Revelation are presented like one long chronological Event.
One of the keys, that unlocks the events of the Tribulation, is John’s personal testimony. His use of the phrase “now I saw” in English, comes from a Greek phrase kai eidon (I saw) that God directs and inspires John to use all the way through the book of Revelation. This phrase shows us that this is a chronological progression (note the 24 usages: 6:1, 2, 5, 8, 12; 7:2; 8:2, 13; 9:1; 10:1; 13:1, 11; 14:1, 6, 14; 15:1; 16:13; 17:3; 19:11, 17, 19; 20:1, 4, 11).
Each major event from the launch of the Tribulation through Christ's return is introduced by this phrase.
Truth-2: “When the Lamb opened,” reminds us that Jesus is the Central Character of Revelation.
No other book in the Bible is introduced and given as a revelation about Jesus Christ, but that is exactly why God tells us He gave this book to Christ's Church (1:1). As we read we find Jesus as the risen Savior, and glorified Son of God ministering among the churches (1:10). Other titles of Christ flow from this book such as:
- “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth” (1:5)
- “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (1:8)
- “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (1:8)
- “the First and the Last (1:11)
- “the Son of God” (2:18)
- “the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God” (3:14)
- “the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star” (22:16)
Truth-3: “One of the seals” reveals that God bases all of the Tribulation Judgments on the reality of His Title Deed as Creator & Owner of the Universe, Held at His Right Hand.
When we looked at Revelation 4 we saw God seated on the Throne in Heaven, then in chapter 5 we saw the scroll in His Hand has seven seals. The seals of this scroll could not be opened by anyone but the Risen Savior, the Crucified Creator that now is allowed to start the conquest of His rebellious creatures.
The scroll is the translation of the Greek word biblion, and it is an amazing parchment scroll, written on both sides and sealed seven times. This scroll is found here at the very right hand of God on His Throne.
One of the amazing historical notes is that a will in the time of the Caesars had to be sealed with seven seals. That is true from the wills left by both Augustus and Vespatian for their heirs to the throne of Rome.
This scroll is the Title Deed to the Universe, and only the Lamb of God is found worthy to take the scroll and release its judgments. As the thunder and lightning flashes and the countless hosts of Heaven bow in worship, the Lamb, who is a Lion of the Tribe of Judah, launches the times of God’s wrath poured out on humanity.
So the Heir of All Things, as Christ is called, takes the scroll, and surrounded by the endless worship of Heaven, launches the war from Heaven upon the sins of mankind. Each seal describes the successive judgments prescribed by God’s just hatred of sin, and holy wrath at those who refuse to repent.
Truth-4: “And I heard” is a reminder that John the Apostle personally witnessed these events.
The Book of Revelation identifies the writer as John the Apostle four times (1:1,4,9; 22:8). The early church also universally taught that the same John who was one of Christ's apostles, wrote a Gospel, three Epistles and Revelation. According to church history the book of Revelation was written in the last decade of the first century (ca. A.D. 94–96), near the end of Emperor Domitian’s reign (A.D. 81–96).
John is old and he is a prisoner on Patmos banished for his bold and faithful preaching (1:9). This small island, southwest of where John had last served Christ's church in Ephesus, was where God delivered these messages about how the world would end.
More than any other theme, Christ's words through John to the churches then and now speak of God’s complete and sovereign control of all the events of human history. No matter how powerful evil may seem, no matter how dark the times may become, Christ will return to right all wrongs and set up His endless rule.
Truth-5: “One of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder” emphasizes that God’s Judgment always issues forth from His Holiness.
The scene around the Throne is always one of beauty, power, majesty and holiness, and it is from the creatures that never stop proclaiming God’s holiness that judgment issues forth.
That context of holiness has framed all of the prior truths. In Revelation 1-3 Christ as Lord and Savior of His Church warns saints about the dangers of sin, and called them back to pursuing holiness in daily living. Then in Revelation 4-5 we His Church are exhorted about the way worship is to be offered to our God, the Holy Majesty on High.
Then in that unending atmosphere of holiness and worship, God explains the final political make up of the world, the final battles of human history, Satan’s defeat, Christ's rule for a thousand years, and then the final judgment before the dawn of heaven’s endless glories.
Truth-6: “Come and see” states to us that God wants us to Know His plans, so He asked John to share them with us.
We are allowed to see what no Old Testament prophet ever understood. Peter tells us that they searched hard to figure out what it all meant. They never saw the difference between Christ's first and second coming. They thought it was all one event.
So we see what Old Testament prophets couldn’t see. Paul said that Christ's coming was a mystery, hidden in ages past. Jesus told us that there would be a long wait from the Cross to His second coming. We are in that long period, and the book of Revelation is our guide to God’s plan.
Revelation Gives the Finished Picture that Makes Everything Fit
So here in your hands is the box full of puzzle pieces, over 31,103 of them to be exact. But the picture on the front of the box is bright and clear, and we find that picture, that map that makes every piece fit in its place right here in the Revelation.
God is unveiling His plan for the future and He gives it to us in Christ's Church.