1There is a marvelous unity to the word of God that begins with the book of Genesis and ends with the book of Revelation. In Genesis we read about the creation of the first heaven and the first earth. In Revelation, the first heaven and the first earth pass away and we read about the creation of the new heaven and the new earth.
2Revelation is the only book in the Bible that has a blessing promised at the beginning and a warning posted at the end. We all know we are blessed when we study and read God’s word but this is the only book in the Bible that promises a specific blessing to the people who not only read it and hear it, but especially those who obey the things that are found in it.
3Most of us have in our mind what we think Jesus looked like when he ministered for three years. Then we have in our mind what he looked like in his post-resurrection appearance when they recognized him but sometimes they didn’t, how he could appear through walls. But the description in the Bible is not his earthly appearance, nor his post-resurrection appearance it is his post-ascension appearance, after he went back to heaven where he is right now. We’re going to see what he looks like.
4The city of Ephesus was one of the most important cities of the ancient world. Ephesus had a problem. It was the center of a fertility type of pagan religion. It was a religion that basically worshiped sexual reproduction. It was also home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. These Christians in Ephesus lived in that kind of a setting. Yet they were a church Jesus wrote to and said, “I praise you. You are working hard and you are not giving up. You are hanging in there. You are keeping on keeping on.” Yet the church at Ephesus was guilty of forsaking their first love.
5Smyrna was the center of emperor worship for the Roman Empire. If Romans had believed in Jesus, they would have put him up on a shelf in the Pantheon with all of their other gods: Jupiter, Zeus, Mercury, Mars, etc. But when Christians refused to name any other God than the one God of heaven they were called atheists and many of them were put to death.
6The church in Pergamum is the third of the seven churches. So, let’s look at this church at Pergamum and talk about that and think about what God wants to do for us. The title of the message is “Kicking Satan Off the Throne,” because twice Jesus says Satan has his throne in Pergamum and Pergamum is where Satan lives.
7Thyatira was a literal church in Asia Minor. This was a place known for the color purple, because they had a profitable business of dying cloth into the royal color of purple. Lydia, who became a Christian in the book of Acts, was from the city of Thyatira and she was known as a seller of purple garments. We don’t know much about the church. Of all these seven churches, this is the most obscure and unknown of all of them. I want us to learn three lessons from this church and apply them to our own lives.
8I have never wrung a chicken’s neck, but my mother had an expression, “The most active chicken in the barnyard is the one who just had its neck wrung.” When you wring a chicken’s neck, that chicken is dead, but it’s out there flopping around and running around even though its neck is broken. It’s dead but it’s busy and that’s true of a lot of churches. There’s a lot of activity going on but the church is dead. That’s what Jesus said about this church here at Sardis.
9Of all of the seven churches in Revelation, this is the only church of the seven that does not receive a rebuke from the Lord. This is what you might call a church that is really blessed. This was a very small, insignificant community in Asia Minor and it was not nearly as important as Ephesus or Sardis or some of these other places, but this is the location of a group of believers although they only had a little bit of strength, God was blessing them and he was using them. If we want to be a certain kind of church of all of these seven churches, we as members of Green Acres Baptist Church we want to be like the church at Philadelphia.
10A deep theological question I have been asked is, “Was Jesus ever sick?” Some say because he was God in the flesh he never got sick; others say he never had the sniffles or He never had a headache or a cold. Did Jesus ever get sick? I don’t know if he got sick during the thirty-three years he was here on earth. I’m not going to answer that question, but he does tell us there is one thing that makes him sick: Lukewarm Christians–compromising, side-stepping, lukewarm Christians.
11Do you know why God created this planet? It just gave him pleasure. An angel said, “God, why did you create earth? Why did you create the heavens? Why did you create all of those people in Tyler, Texas?” God said, “It just gives me pleasure to do it. I enjoy the fellowship and the praise these, my creatures, give to me.” I’ll tell you what. When we get to heaven, we are going to know who is boss and who is worthy of praise!
12A study of the scroll with the seven seals described in Revelation 5.
13Has there ever been a time in the history of the world when it was technologically possible for there to be a one-world ruler? Never before today! But with communications and transportation it could happen today. Every time you hear somebody in government start talking about a global economy, global politics, or one-world government, they don’t even know they are setting themselves up. I’m not saying everybody that says that is the Antichrist. All I am saying is the system is in place and many people want to see it happen.
14What’s it going to be like the first Sunday after Jesus raptures the church? We make jokes about it and say things like, “Mostly deacons will be there in church and most of the choir will be there,” but I want to tell you the first Sunday after Jesus raptures the church, the church buildings are going to be PACKED, because there are going to be some people who know and have heard all about this and when it happens, they are going to realize they were counterfeit Christians and never were saved and now they have been left behind and what a terrible, terrible time it’s going to be!
15In the Bible there is a highly organized strata and structure to angelic organizations. We don’t get all the details about it, but anytime you read the words “principalities and powers” that’s a word that means ranks of order, both the good angels and the fallen angels. God’s angels are organized with archangels and the other angels we are talking about. So these seven trumpet angels appear and they are going to be the ones who blow these trumpets to announce judgment on the earth.
16How do you think people on earth are going to react judgement after judgement after judgement after judgement? Thousands of people are killed. There are signs in the sky. There is environmental damage there are all kinds of disasters happening. What do you think is going to be the reaction of mankind?
17I could go on and on and on about the sweetness of the word of God but, there is more to the word of God than the sweet promises of God. There is the distasteful reality of the judgement and the wrath of God.
18Somebody needs to tell Indiana Jones he will never find the Ark of the Covenant, because it is in heaven. How did it get there? I don’t know but the Bible says there it is! The beautiful thing about the temple is that this temple in heaven is the dwelling place of the power of God but the glorious news about the temple is this all of this is in the future. The temple John measured at the beginning of the book is going to be in Jerusalem; the temple we see at the end of this chapter is in heaven but right now there is a temple of God.
19Some people have the weirdest ideas about Satan. They really Satan is some guy in red long johns down in Hell with a pitchfork and a whip cracking a whip over people shoveling coals into some furnace. The Bible says Jesus, said Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels but he is not there yet. The Bible calls Satan, “The Prince of the Power of this Air.” Jesus calls him, “The God of this world.” The Bible says he roams about seeking whom he may devour. You see that’s where he is right now but the time is going to come when he is going to be cast out of his access to heaven.
20When Jesus died on the cross it was not God’s afterthought. It wasn’t a “plan B” It was something God planned from the very foundation of the world. The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. The Antichrist is going to blaspheme God. He’s going to stand on the earth and stand in the temple in Jerusalem and shake his fist at God and say, “God, if you are God destroy me right now. There is no God! Worship me instead!” He’s even going to blaspheme those who are in heaven.
21Earlier in our study of Revelation we were introduced to these 144,000 individuals. Who are they? They will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists who go about during the time of Tribulation preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Twelve thousand of them come from each of the 12 twelve Jewish tribes, and while the Antichrist and the false prophet are spreading their doctrine around this world, these 144,000 Jewish evangelists are spreading all over planet earth the gospel of the kingdom of God.
22The main part of this message deals with the strategy of judgement. The seven-year period of Tribulation follows a chronological framework of the three series of sevens. There were seven seals, seven trumpets and now we come to the third series of sevens: The seven bowls (or vials) of wrath that are going to be poured out. What are these seven bowls of wrath?
23The last thing we can know about this false religious system that is going to be operating during the time of the Tribulation is it will be betrayed by the Antichrist. That’s the amazing thing. God won’t have to destroy it. The Antichrist will destroy it.
24Why is the future commerce system going to fall? Our world is definitely moving toward a unified economic system. If they could, those in high places would make the entire world a one monetary system one system of exchange, because, let’s face it when you are trying to do business in another country, you have to consider the fluctuating exchange rates and there are people who keep talking about the “New World Order” where economically there will be one monetary system. This scripture envisions a time when that has already taken place under the leadership of the Antichrist. However, the time is going to come when it is going to absolutely fall apart.
25There’s going to be a marriage made in heaven and a wedding in heaven–and you and I are going to be there. In fact you and I are going to be part of the wedding. Do you know what’s going to be different about this wedding in heaven? In heaven, the focus is not going to be on the bride–the focus is going to be on the bridegroom–Jesus!
26When Jesus comes to rapture the church–which could happen at any moment–he literally won’t come to planet Earth. The Bible says we’ll meet him in the clouds and all the true Christians will be caught up to be with Jesus. We’ll be in heaven from that time all the way during the Tribulation and that’s when he is coming silently, secretively, like a thief in the night but at the end of this Tribulation he will come like we are talking about today. This is when he is coming in power and might and majesty and every eye will see him.
27Have we ever lived in a world and do we live in a world right now where all the governments of the world are upon the shoulders of Jesus? When the Security Council of the United Nations meets in New York do they fall on their knees and say, “Lord Jesus, this is your world and what do you want us to do”? Of course not. That hasn’t happened yet-–but it will! Why do you think Jesus told us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven?” I believe the Bible teaches the time will come when Jesus will live and reign on Earth and we’re going to reign with him!
28Let’s talk about heaven as John describes it, the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven to a new heaven and a new earth. Don’t try to place it anywhere on planet earth now, because the Bible says clearly the old heaven and the old earth were passed away. We have no frame of reference with which to compare it so you just have to imagine it’s absolutely new, because that’s what Jesus says “Behold, I make all things new.”
29The very first promise in the Bible is found in Genesis 2:17 where God said to Adam and Eve “Eat of all the trees in the Garden that you want to but don’t eat of this tree, and the day that you eat of this tree, I promise you shall surely die!” That’s the first promise and that’s the promise that got us into trouble. Sin! But the last promise of the Bible is Jesus said, “I am coming soon.”