Sevens - The Completion of God's Plan
Seven Letters to the Churches
Seven Torches and Seven Spirits of God
Seven Angels with Seven Trumpets
Seven Angels with Seven Bowls of Wrath
The New Jerusalem
In Genesis, Almighty God reveals how this world began.
It tells how his glorious creation fell under Satan's deceit.
The next 64 books tell how God implemented his plan of salvation.
The last book, Revelation, 'the revelation of Jesus Christ'. 11
It tells of the last days and the completion of God's plan for eternity.
Seven is the number of completion, and it occurs many times in Revelation.
1. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. 13
Blessed are all those who proclaim God's word, who hear it, and who obey it.
These are not three different groups of people. But each Christian who practices all three will be blessed by God.
Reading aloud God's word may well include the literal practice, but primarily our lives - all that we say and do - must proclaim the fragrance of Jesus.
Hearing his word is not just listening to it, we need to know it is Almighty God who is speaking to us, and believe it is the eternal, unchanging truth. Jesus often said, he that has ears to hear, let him hear (believe). Many know the parable about the man who built his house on the rock and the man who built on sand. But few know that the wise, 'the good foundation' man is the one who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice. Math 724
'Keeping' the word of God is not only obeying it, but holding onto its truth, when our circumstances and all around us would combine to deny God's faithfulness and overlook the strength and reliability of his word. He always keeps his word and all that he has promised. Culture and popular opinion are always on the change, but God's truth is unchangeable. It is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Throughout Revelation there is a sense of urgency; for the time is near.
Why today do so few read or preach from Revelation, except perhaps from the letters to the 7 churches (Rev 2,3)? Is the rest too controversial? Is the Tribulation too judgmental, too horrific, too 'Victorian'? Yet amongst it Almighty God reveals the extent of his amazing mercy, grace and faithfulness. This is indeed the greatest blessing he can bestow upon his creation.
2. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Blessed indeed," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them!" 1413
Rev 14 reveals the firstfruits of the redeemed (the 144,000) singing a new song before the throne of God in heaven. And three angels who proclaim that the day of judgement has come, Babylon is fallen and calling on those who had not followed the Beast (revealed in Rev 13) to endure their persecution. These who have faith in Jesus will be blessed. Death will be a glorious relief. At last they will be with their Lord and Saviour. They will be surrounded by righteousness, justice and truth; instead of wickedness, blasphemy and deceit. No wonder they are singing! Let us be prepared to endure hardship and persecution for the name of Jesus. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Ps 305
Some today try to encourage the church by prophesying revival at the end. But they are as wrong as the false prophets in the days of Jeremiah who proclaimed "Peace, peace ..." (Jer 614) when Almighty God was warning of judgement. About a century earlier Isaiah had to give the same warning (Is 308-11). Let us learn to be ready for the days of persecution; strong and sure that our God is faithful, his word is true and arm strong to save. Joy will surely come in the morning and the righteous will be blessed - for ever!
3. "Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!" 1615
Almighty God gives this single sentence encouragement for the saints as his 6th angel pours out his bowl of wrath when the Euphrates dries up and the dragon releases evil spirits to entice all the world powers to assemble at Armageddon. Those with open expectant eyes see clearly that the coming of the King of Kings is now very near. Now is the time to stay awake and also to ensure that they remain clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. The great majority of people will be totally unaware that this final world-wide assault upon Israel is a battle against Almighty God. It is the day promised when Jesus returns to defend his chosen people. See Joel 3, Zech 12 and Zech 14 for the promise; and Rev 1911-21 for the prophesied result.
For the last 2,000 years the end has been near! Many have cried with longing, "Come Lord Jesus, come quickly," but have had to wait a little longer. Now the sky heralded the first light of dawn of this great day. All who see and heed this word will be greatly blessed. Let us be ready and expectant. And remember the parable Jesus told about the 10 virgins - only 5 were ready. Math 251-13
4. "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!"
And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God." 199
John had just seen a vision of Babylon destroyed in a single hour, and heard the great multitude of heaven say, "Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honour and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth ..." 191,2
Now the persecuted believers are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. No wonder they are blessed! The judgements of Almighty God are both for and against. While the verdict against man is always 'Guilty', for believers it is 'Guilty, but pardoned'. Pardoned only because Jesus bore the penalty of our sin himself. This invitation is a true and prophetic testimony given to all believers. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. 910
This supper is first and foremost the glorious celebration of the eternal union of Christ and his Bride. It is also a rejoicing of Christ's triumph over the beast and the false prophet, and the 1,000 year incarceration of Satan. Imagine a world that is totally God's kingdom; our daily prayer fulfilled, 'Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' Every day across the whole globe there is righteousness, truth, justice and peace. What a day that will be!
5. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him a thousand years. 206
It will be such a blessed time to live with Christ when he reigns as king on earth.
(See last para above) This verse seems to describe the joy of Christ, the blessed and holy one. And this life and kingdom he shares with those killed by the Beast, now resurrected, and who will never die again (204). During this 1,000 year reign of Christ returned to earth, he will share the responsibility of governing his creation with these martyrs. Their priesthood will not be an unending burden, a succession of tiring problems, but a millennia of holy joy! It is difficult to imagine such a state - but it's worth trying to do so. Our hearts will be filled with longing; with faith sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Heb 111
6. And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. 227
This is very similar to the first beatitude in 13 which also emphasises that the end is near, and that we all need to keep on trusting and preparing for the return of Jesus. What would we do today if we knew He was coming before evening?
7. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. ... Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 2212, 14
Again and again Jesus tells us that he is coming soon (226, 12, 20). This is not a threat, or even a warning, but a promise to delight the heart of all believers. They reply as John did, "Amen. Come Lord Jesus!" 2220
What does it mean, 'to wash our robes'? Clearly it is not an instruction to use the washing machine or go down to the local stream to wash our clothes, or even ourselves. David asked and answered this question.
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart ... Ps 151,2 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Ps 243-5
No fallen man can walk blamelessly or have clean hands and a pure heart. Try as we might, it just is not possible. If we could, it would not have been necessary for our Saviour to be our perfect sacrifice on the Cross. As he said, "I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." Jn 33
John is shown a great multitude in white robes standing before the Lamb. Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Rev 713,14
Many hymn-writers have addressed this great theme; it is so vital. It is essential for our hope of heaven to be sure and our desire to live for eternity with the Most Holy God. There is no other way.
Charles Wesley wrote:
Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
Augustus Toplady wrote:
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked come to thee for dress;
Helpless look to thee for grace:
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
There is no other means by which we may be forgiven, and for Jesus to give us
a clean robe of his righteousness. No wonder it results in our being blessed.
Seven Letters to the Churches
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. 14,5
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a
trumpet saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven
churches to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to
Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.
As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches." 110-20 (Also 21 31)
John is shown a vision of the Lord Almighty in the midst of the seven churches, each with a governing angel, to whom he writes a letter. Each contain the commendations, warnings and instructions that were needed by the church then; and they still are today. (See notes on Revelation for details of the letters.)
Almighty God does not tell us why he only wrote to these seven churches. As on many other occasions, he tells us all we need to know. They are complete. Unlike us, with God there can be no subsequent regret that he had not written to the Church in Jerusalem, Antioch or Rome.
It is highly significant and most gracious that Almighty God is seen here right in the midst of the churches. Each are so precious to him. To each is given a 'star', an angel to protect, guide and reveal the truth, so that each may be a bright 'lampstand' in a dark world. In the midst of the great persecution we are told not to be afraid for the Son of man rose from the dead victorious and is seen having 'the keys of Death and Hades'; keys that will lock in - and lock out!
Seven Torches and Seven Spirits of God
From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God. 45
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 56
The Holy Spirit sees and knows all things. He is seen here as the purifying fire
of God, sent out into all the earth - the earth created by God and for God.
John sees the throne and the King of kings seated on the throne, having all power, glory, might and majesty that is due to him.
How can mere man ignore Almighty God; and even blaspheme against him?
The Spirit convicts and reveals truth; he is our Counsellor, Teacher and Guide;
and he is the promised presence of God in our hearts and lives. Jn 14-16
Without him Almighty God would be totally unknown, the Word of God would remain irrelevant and all hope would be a vain delusion, a mirage.
The scroll with seven seals is introduced in Rev.
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty- four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth." 51-10
What is this scroll? Why did John weep loudly? Why so important?
The scroll is the Lamb's Book of Life, written before the creation of the world.
In it are written all the names of the redeemed.
But if it is not opened their names could not be known.
The seven seals reveal how completely the scroll was sealed.
And they were so strong that only God himself could break them open.
Rev 6-19 is the story of what will happen as each one is broken.
Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals ... 61
Note that it is the Lamb who opens the seal; he is in complete control of what happens and when. None of the subsequent events are by chance. Each is ordained by the Lord Almighty. Many will be greatly surprised by them and question how a God of Love could do such things. Their surprise will only be because they have either not read the scriptures or their reading has been highly selective of both the Old and the New Testaments.
The first four seals reveal the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Each are summoned in turn by the four Living Creatures.
Dominating conqueror (white), War (red), Famine (black), Disease (pale).
These four horsemen kill 1/4 of the world!! (1,825 million c.f. 50m in WWII)
There will be no doubt when the Great Tribulation begins.
The 5th seal will not be seen on earth - it concerns the martyrs in heaven.
The 6th seal is a great earthquake + sun and moon darkened, stars fall, and all
men rich and poor, mighty and slaves try to hide from wrath of the Lamb.
This great shaking is so that what is unshakeable will remain. Heb 1225-29
Before the 7th seal Almighty God reveals how he 'seals' the 144,000 from Israel,
(also Ezek 93,4) and the great multitude from every nation praising God.
The elect can and will be confident in our faithful, gracious Father.
These 6 seals are just the beginning! There is still the 7th seal to be completed.
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 81,2
It seems that the 7th seal is the seven trumpets,
and also the 7th trumpet is the 7 bowls of wrath.
So the 7th seal includes the 7 trumpets and the 7 bowls of wrath.
See Notes on Revelation / The Great Tribulation / Summary of Tribulation.
Seven Angels with Seven Trumpets
Before the 7 trumpets are sounded, another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. 83-5
What were the prayers of the saints?
Was it for personal protection?
Was it for the salvation of the blaspheming, wicked world?
Was it for justice as in 610
This angel had work to do for Almighty God, and he did it!
Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. 86
Trumpets are sounded to warn people. No one will be able to ask why God
had not warned them of the impending disasters.
>Hail, 1/3 earth, trees and grass burned, 1/3 of fish die and 1/3 of ships destroyed, 1/3 rivers bitter 'wormwood', 1/3 of sun, moon and stars darkened after first four trumpets. These are all 'natural disasters'. Since men now commonly define the Lord Almighty as a God of love, they cannot see how such massive disasters can be from the hand of God. Amos had the same problem with prosperous Israel in ~ 750 BC. Five time he said, "I gave you empty stomachs ..." "I also withheld rain ..." "I sent plagues among you ..." "Yet you have not returned to me" declares the Lord. (Amos 46-11). The end-time disasters will be from the hand of Almighty God 'trumpeted' to all mankind. But very few will heed the warnings, even though they will be far greater than the world has ever previously known.
Last three trumpet warnings are accompanied by load voice crying "Woe, woe, woe", and they are even worse! Smoke rising from bottomless pit became locusts with power of scorpions to torment for 5 months all without the seal of God.
And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. 96
The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come. 912
The seven trumpets are not yet complete.
Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bond at the great river Euphrates." So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind ... by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulphur. 913-18
When the first four seals were opened, 1/4 of the world's population die. Now a further 1/3 die. That's a total of 1/2 the population (currently 7,256 million July 2015) i.e. 3,628 million c.f. just ~50 million in WWII ! And don't forget this is with the hand of God firmly at the helm! Surely we need to revise our understanding of Almighty God.
What was the effect upon those who survived? Did they turn to God and plead
for mercy. No!
The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshipping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. 920,21
There is still one more trumpet warning before they are complete.
But first there are two other events.
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down." And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. 101-6
What the seven thunders said we will not know until the day when they speak. Then we will know that God is again fulfilling all his word.
What was this little scroll? What did it say? What was prophesied?
Even after the total rejection of God by men, he graciously still gives men another opportunity to hear his word. He sends two witnesses for 1,260 days (3½ years).
When they had finished their testimony (not before) the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them. 117
Did men respond? Yes,
For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. 119,10
But that was not the end of the story. Almighty God had not yet finished.
But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here!" And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. 1111-13
The brief ministry of these two witnesses bore fruit. No man can even approach such amazing grace.
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever." 1115
This verse reveals more clearly than perhaps any other in Scripture the purpose of God for his whole creation.
War and the competition for power by men on earth has been very obvious for the last 6,000 years. But the war between angels of God and the dragon is largely unseen.
God now reveals a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. ... And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" 123, 10-12
Details of this furious, deceitful dragon who appears as 'the Beast' is revealed in Rev 13, together with his winger, 'the False Prophet'. In the following chapter they are contrasted with the Lamb and the 144,000 redeemed, who are the firstfruits for God and are blameless. Note they are not the great multitude who will sing their praises to God, but just the firstfruits.
An explanation of the 7 heads and 10 horns is given later in 177-10
The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.
Seven Angels with Seven Bowls of Wrath
Revelation then takes us back to the 'sevens' and the completing of Almighty God's great plan. Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished. 151
Six seals had been opened and the seventh was still being opened.
Six warning trumpets had been blown and the seventh still sounded.
But men had been heedless - what utter folly.
Now it was time for judgement; it would be just and complete.
Almighty God was rightly angry with men who ignored and blasphemed him.
These bowls of wrath would affect every man personally.
1. Harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of
the beast and worshipped its image. 162
2. The sea became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea. 163
3. The rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. 164
4. The sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God. ... They did not repent. 168,9
5. The throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds. 1610,11
6. The great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. 1612-14
This great battle is described in Rev 1911-21 also Joel 3, Zech 121-9 141-15 7. A loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe. 1617-21
The New Jerusalem
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 219-11
The task of the seven angels of God was not always unpleasant!
What a contrast for him to have now been given the privilege of describing the glory of God and the characteristics of his eternal heaven. The end state of God's plan and purpose of his whole creation. It will be completed exactly on time and in the way he has revealed. Almighty God never does by halves; what he starts, he finishes. And he reveals it so that we who yet live in a world where wickedness seems to grow by the hour, may have a secure hope and confidence in the most faithful and mighty God. He will not, indeed he cannot fail to complete all he has promised. This is the significance of the 'sevens'.