Study of The Book of Revelation
W. T. Russel (Tape #3)
In review, the number seven is a sufficient and complete number for the teachings of Revelation. Seven stars represent the seven pastors of the seven churches. The seven Spirits of God before his throne are the complete and sufficient power for the number of churches and pastors. We have only studied the things happening on earth in our previous lessons. John saw the imperfect churches with imperfect pastors and members. He heard the words spoken by Christ, the head of the church. There were scenes of the churches being persecuted with trials and suffering and the powers being used against them. Despite all this, John saw the promises made to the churches by the Lord. These previous chapters show all of the claims made by certain people. Many things were done and palmed off in the name of religion of which we would not approve. It was made clear to John the difficult struggle the church was having. In chapter four God is pleased to show John there are agencies in heaven other than what he has seen on earth.
Chapter 4:1 "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter." I have no doubt the Book of Revelation was written about 95 or 96 A.D. It was the very last book of inspiration that was written with its proper place as the last book of the New Testament. Since the Lord tells John he is going to show him what is coming afterward, we must begin with 96 A. D.
Chapter 4:2 "And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne."
Chapter 4:3 "And he that sat was to look upon like jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald." I would like to point this out here. John saw the throne of grace and God in his brilliance. He didn't see a form of God. Similarly, when God spoke to Moses, Moses could only look upon the back parts of God. For John said no man can look upon the face of God and live. While on the Isle of Patmos, John looks into heaven through that open door. He sees a throne, and on that throne is one like a sardine stone, even like unto an emerald. He sees God in his spiritual brilliance and knows it is something supernatural. Not only that, but he sees the throne of God's rich grace because all three are represented there. Let's look:
Chapter 4:4 "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold." What did John see in verse four? He saw twenty-four priests and twenty-four elders. In the Old Testament when David was king of Israel, he divided the priesthood into twenty-four courses. When each man fulfilled his course, he would go home. If you would know more about this, begin reading Luke 1:8. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was serving in the priest's office in the order of his course when the angel appeared unto him. The angel told Zacharias his wife, Elizabeth, could conceive and bear a son. What do the twenty-four elders represent? They represent the perpetuity of the priesthood of the children of God from that day until the end of the world. The twenty-four divisions of the priesthood that David made were of the sons of Aaron. After they fulfilled their course as it came their time to fulfill it, they would retire to their homes. I want to say this: the twenty-four elders represent the perpetuity of the priesthood of God's children for every born again child of God is a priest--not a high priest. Aaron's sons were not high priests. They were priests and served in the temple as priests while Aaron served as the high priest. But I'll call your attention to a statement by the Apostle John in Revelation 1:6 “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Look also at this statement made by the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:5 "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." Rev. 5:10 "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." How does he reign? Jesus Christ reigns through his people in the world. The church Jesus left here in the world is operating under the commission that Jesus gave it, and he said I'll be with you always even until the end of the world. So we are reigning with Christ today as priests in the kingdom of our Father. The true churches of our country, and I'm talking about genuinely organized churches of the proper material and connections. All of these churches in the world today constitute the church kingdom. He has made us to be a kingdom of priests, and we do reign on the earth. That's been going on for nearly two thousand years. It will continue to go on until the Lord comes on a cloud of his glory. The door of mercy will then be closed forever and eternally.
Chapter 4:5 "And out of the throne preceded lightnings and thundering and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." The seven lamps of fire burning before the throne are the seven Spirits of God. There are seven churches under consideration in the book of Revelation with all seven named, and each one of the seven has the Spirit of God. If there had been one hundred churches, there would have one hundred spirits of God. Wherever the church Jesus set up and left in the world is assembled, Jesus is there in Spirit with them. The churches can be one hundred miles apart, and he will be at each church at the same time. So this figure seven is to be considered as complete, just as you would refer to seven days as being a complete week.
Chapter 4:6 "And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind." The sea in Revelation represents people. John had seen the unrest of the peoples of the world even before he went to Patmos. He had been a witness of the persecutions of civil powers. He had seen the frailty of the churches and men, and had witnessed for himself people of the world in an upheaval. Here John sees that same people in a sea of glass before the throne of God. In heaven things are not as disturbing as they on earth. Those conditions that exist in heaven have a calming effect on the people while those conditions here seem to stir up the people. That's the difference between them. "...in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind." Let's not say four beasts. If it had been beasts, the Greek word would have been "thereon." Rather, the Greek word here is "zoa" which has reference to "living ones." Let's look at it as "living ones living beings, or living creatures." Chapter 4:7 "And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle." Change "beast" to "living creature" in each case in verse seven and what do we have? We have the cherubim. What is the cherubim? It's an agency of God consisting of angels. Where is it stationed? John saw it in heaven. Look at Hebrews 1:14 "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" So we have four angels that constitute the cherubim. I'd like to call your attention now to the gate of the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve had transgressed the law of God, there was an altar or a throne established at the entrance of the Garden of Eden. There was a flaming sword to keep the way of the tree of life. We also see two cherubim there. Now then, in this case, we have four. But I'd say this, if we could see the four cherubim, one of them looking east, one looking west, one looking north, and one looking south from our vantage point, we could only see two at a time. You might get in another position on the other side, and you'd just see two. You wouldn't see all four of them for their faces are in different directions. The first was like a lion and a lion represents courage. There is no beast more courageous than the lion or those in the lion's family. The second was like a calf. Well, just say ox because that is what it's talking about. The ox has reference to strength and endurance. The third had a face like a man and it represent intelligence. And the fourth living one was like a flying eagle. What did that represent? It represents sight, vision, or the ability to see at a distance. So we have the cherubim made up of four each looking in a different direction and being able to move in any direction without turning around. They can move without turning around as in your automobile. If you want to go further in the study of that, go to chapter one of Ezekiel and read about Ezekiel's iron wheel, the wheel in a wheel. The wheel was placed at right angles, and it didn't have to be turned around. It would go in any direction--sideways, backward, or forward without turning. More also can be found in Ezekiel 10:14. We see this cherubim is an agency of God that John is visualizing here. In other words, God is letting John know he need not be discouraged. There are agencies of divinity able to take care of the situation.
Chapter 4:8 "And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." I believe we've covered that. Flying would be the same as rolling or turning, and we won't go into that any further. I do want to say it must have been a comfort to John that this heavenly agency rested neither day nor night and were on guard every hour. He could go to sleep with the assurance that the heavenly agency was watching and able to take care of the situations that might arise.
Chapter 4:9 "And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,"
Chapter 4:10 "The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,"
Chapter 4:11 "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." That is a climax. You can look in any direction, as a creature of creation, and God created it for his pleasure. He said in Isaiah 46:10 “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" 46:11 "Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executed my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." Who'll do it? You and me. No. We might be little instruments in God's hands to carry it out, but it's God's power behind the servants he has on earth and the heavenly agencies he has above. We are workers or laborers together with God, and that's the lesson John is taught here in this chapter. The original manuscripts of the Bible were written with no chapter divisions in the books. Since the translators were subject to mistakes, I believe part of chapter five should have been included with chapter four. Here is part of it.
Chapter 5:1 "And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals." The phrase "a book written within and on the backside," simply means there was no more space to write or the book was filled thus the last book of the New Testament and the completion of inspired writing of the Bible. As I said before, the number seven means completeness. It is used in that capacity here "sealed with seven seals." The seven seals meant seven revelations were to be made. They were complete revelations--nothing to be added or taken away. Revelation was written in 96 A.D. and no earlier than 95 A.D. during the reign of Domitian. Through Domitian's power and influence, John was exiled on the Isle of Patmos. While he was there, he wrote this book. John was the only disciple who died a natural death. The rest of them were martyrs. John went back to Ephesus, and I'm sure lived there until he died a natural death. When I was a young preacher I did some second hand preaching. I do not mean to be critical and offend anyone. God bless the memory of our older brothers. I love them, but they could make mistakes like anyone else. I heard them preach the book sealed with seven seals in chapter 5:1 contained the plan of salvation. In John's vision of heaven in this verse, he saw the Lamb who had already been slain. Christ had been crucified, buried, rose from the grave, lived on earth, and then ascended to the right hand of God. The book in the hand of Christ here was a revealing of Christ from 95 or 96 A. D. until the end of the world.
Chapter 5:2 "And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?"
Chapter 5:3 "And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon."
Chapter 5:4 "And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon."
Chapter 5:5 "And one of the elders saith unto me, weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." The elder mentioned in this verse is referring to one of the four and twenty elders. The prevailing had taken place already before 96 A. D. Therefore, the "book" in these verses did not contain the plan of salvation. It contained the trials of the church on earth, and events that would happen from that time which only God could reveal.
Chapter 5:6 "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." The Lamb mentioned in this verse was a type of Jesus Christ since Christ had already been crucified at the time Revelation was written. You will notice this verse says " stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. It was the risen Christ who prevailed who was qualified to take the book from him who sat on the throne and loose the seven seals to reveal the contents of the book. It addition it is said here "having seven horns and seven eyes," which is mentioning the figure seven again for complete power and completeness of sight.
Chapter 5:7 "And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne."
Chapter 5:8 "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints." The "four beasts" are rendered "four living creatures" in the original, and I prefer it that way. Notice they all had harps in this verse--instruments of music. The golden vials full of odors were incense which is the prayers of saints. God gave John the responsibility of being an apostle, and at this time, he was imprisoned and exiled away from his people on the Isle of Patmos. Oh, how he must have been encouraged when God showed him what had taken place in the past and what was coming in the future. To me, this is wonderful! Through John, we also see these things.
Chapter 5:9 "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;" "And they sung a new song," was a song that had never been sung before. It was praise to Jesus Christ.
Chapter 5:10 "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."
Chapter 5:11"And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;” (Myriads of angels, thousands and thousands of angels.)
Chapter 5:12"Saying with a loud voice, worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." Christ is the only one that is worthy. John saw all these things in heaven. He must have been discouraged because all of his co-laborers, the apostles, had already been killed. He miraculously had escaped and was exiled on Patmos. He was shown the dark scenes of the state of the churches in Asia with their imperfections and the imperfections of men. He was told to write the churches letters. Sometimes we reach the place in life where we think the cause is just about to fade away. If we just looked at earth and mortal man, it certainly would soon fade away. I'm sure John was very much encouraged when he looked into heaven and saw that we are not left alone. Here John is given a view of God's heavenly agencies and earthly agencies in cooperation with each other. God has carried out his purpose and will continue to carry out his purpose to the end of the world. Chapter 5:13 "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Wasn't that a wonderful experience? John just didn't hear the voices of angels and men. He heard the voices of everything in the world that God had created that could make a sound. All of them were giving praise and honor to him that sitteth on the throne and unto the Lamb. And they said "forever and ever." I'd like you to notice the heavenly scene in particular when the Lion of the tribe of Juda reached forth and took the book from the hand of God who sat on the throne. Listen to the response given by the cherubim, the four angels, the four and twenty elders. He went even far enough to say that every thing in heaven and earth gave praise unto him that lives forever and forever. David said let every thing that has breath praise the Lord. I can't help but think of that when I hear the birds singing their songs. John heard this when he was on this Isle of Patmos: the honor, glory, praise of the singing, and every word uttered was toward Jesus Christ the Son of God. This book is about the revelation of Jesus Christ--not the revelation of John. It's the revelation of Jesus Christ given to us by an angel to the servant John. John wrote what was revealed to him. Let's not forget that the honor, praise and glory rightly belong to him that's being revealed in this book.
Chapter 5:14 "And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever." "And the four beasts said, Amen." The meaning of that word "amen" is so may it be. And I say now so may it ever be at all times now and hereafter. As I have said before the four and twenty elders that were around the throne represented the perpetuity of the priesthood. Of course for there to be perpetuity of the priesthood, there'd have to be perpetuity of the church that Jesus left in the world.
Chapter 6:1 "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." We are now going study the things which were revealed to John when Jesus separately opened the seven seals. He unveiled things which had been hidden to a great extent. The minds of people had been shrouded because of the complexity of the things they were not able to understand. "Come and see" is not in the original. It just simply says, "Come." It wasn't telling John to come. He was already there. Who was it telling to come? It was the introduction of a panorama, a scene as it were to be flashed on a screen or on a stage. It's a peculiar thing that in the opening of the seven seals, the one who opened the seals never read a thing. There is nothing read from the portion that's unsealed, but the seals are broken one at a time. Instead of reading what is in the book, it's acted out or demonstrated as an act upon a stage so to speak. So the word "Come" just means to come forth. This panorama and this scene is to be shown and notice is given for it to start. I want us to keep that in mind in these seals.
Chapter 6:2 “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer." This scenery is borrowed in a way from the first and sixth chapter of Zechariah. You'll find four horses mentioned by the prophet, Zechariah. There are only two verses of scripture given at the opening of the first seal. White always represents purity. We will later read about the white robes given to the martyrs which are an emblem of righteousness and purity. There was one who sat upon this white horse. That one represented the word of God or the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the very one who had died and by his death became worthy to break the seals and reveal future events regarding the gospel and its affect. In this scene, it's a white horse with his rider going forth conquering and to conquer. A bow and a crown were given to him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer. In Psalms 45:5, he says "Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee." The Apostle Paul in Hebrews 4:12 said, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." So the gospel is referred to in different places sometimes as arrows and sometimes as a sword. This rider on the white horse is dispensing the gospel with its cutting power and its penetrating affect in the hearts of the enemies of God--the followers of Satan. I've read many other opinions as to what is being depicted in these seals. Despite this, I believe it is a revelation of Jesus Christ, the word of God, and we need to limit our minds to the fact it is a revelation of the word of God by Jesus Christ. And if it is the revelation of Jesus Christ, the word of God, then we must take the position without fear of contradiction that this horse and its rider is none other than the gospel of Jesus Christ, the word of God conquering in the past, present and future. So this first seal represents Jesus Christ himself, the word of God, and its affects when it is preached. When the gospel is preached in love as designed to be preached, and is received in honest hearts, it will conquer sin and redeem them from sin. They will be saved with an everlasting and eternal salvation. The first seal has to do with the affects of the preaching of the gospel of the Son of God on honest hearers.
Chapter 6:3 "And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see." As said before, the beast referred to in verse three is also a "living creature," and a member of the cherubim. They are angels giving the call to come forth. In other words, they are introducing another scene. Nothing is said, but it is just presented.
Chapter 6:4 "And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword." Notice it was not a two-edged sword. The gospel spoken of by Paul is a two-edged sword, but to this man or rider is given a "great sword." It's the very same word used in the Greek for the knife, the sword Abraham raised to take the life of his son in sacrifice to God. The "great sword" given to this man riding the red horse was a sword of sacrifice. I want us to notice the different affects the gospel had. When the gospel is received in honest hearts, it has a peaceful affect. To those who have received the gospel and have been saved, they are joyful. They are happy because others are being saved. However there is another affect the gospel has upon other individuals. For instance, the woman who was a soothsayer, who caused Paul and Silas to go to jail. The Bible said she brought her masters much gain by her soothsaying. Some people say fortunetellers are just a hoax. There are fortunetellers, and they are being directed and lead by the wrong spirit. I don't want to be around them or have any part of their work because their operation is by an evil spirit. This woman soothsayer or fortuneteller brought her masters much gain by her soothsaying. Paul and Silas preached the gospel to this woman. Paul commanded the devil, the unclean spirit which enabled her to be a fortuneteller, to come out. She was then converted. What were the results? How was the gospel received? Paul and Silas were put in prison by the masters of this woman because they had lost their source of guidance in material matters. This instance shows a different affect the gospel had rather than when it was received peacefully. The word of God is the same, but everyone doesn't receive it the same. Another example of the different affects of the gospel is Demetrius in Ephesus. He made shrines (little idols) which was a great money making business for him. They were making these little idols, and when Paul preached the gospel in that vicinity of Ephesus, it caused a regular riot. The affect of the gospel was the idol makers lost some of their customers. They complained their business was in danger because of Paul's preaching the gospel. The gospel had a different affect in Ephesus and surrounding communities than when the first seal was opened. Idols are still worshipped today in such religions as Buddhism and Shintoism. Even in Catholic churches and Catholic homes, you'll find little images or idols the people actually worship or trust in. Jesus said in Matthew 10:34 "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." 10:35 "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." We have examples of this given in the scriptures in Paul's day. He went to Corinth, a country of idolatry. Some heard the gospel with an honest heart and were saved from sin. The example was that an unsaved husband became furious with his wife when she was saved. They could no longer live together peacefully. Paul told them in 1 Corinthians 7:12 "But to the rest speak me, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she is pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away." 1 Corinthians 7:13 "And the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him." The gospel has caused a lot of friction in homes. It's caused a lot of friction between husbands and wives and even brothers and sisters. I think of an old song that Brother L. A. Stuart used to sing along time ago. One of the verses or a part of the song at least, is this: "My brothers and sisters won't own me, but I've started to make heaven my home." So there's been a divisive reception of the gospel all down through the centuries, and it will continue to be so. In fact, I believe today it's worse than it has ever been. So this is the affect of the gospel as it's preached and its affect, not only in the past, but in the present, and also in the future.
Chapter 6:5 “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand." Again "come" should be used instead of "Come and see." It means just let this be seen. In other words, let us look at the picture and see the symbol. Let us look at the figure and see what he's talking about because he didn't explain anything that he saw in the vision. He just showed it in signs and symbols.
Chapter 6:6 "And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." I want you to think symbolically and not literally because he's using literal things to express figurative things from a spiritual standpoint. We can see that bread comes from barley and wheat. The spiritual side of that is bread from heaven. Its spiritual bread, and not earthly. The black horse that we are reading about here is having to do with a famine not of bread we eat to sustain life for this natural body, but it is a famine of hearing the true gospel of the Son of God. I know today the famine is getting worse. If you have moved around very much, watched television and listened to the radio, you will have to say also there is very little true gospel preached compared to the amount of preaching that's done. There is very little pure gospel of the Son of God being measured out to the peoples who hear today. It is being so diluted that it doesn't even favor the gospel of the Son of God. It is a time of famine and depression when people withhold the truth of the gospel of the Son of God. It is a famine when they fail to contend for the conditions which are embodied therein and pass it off as some unimportant something that doesn't amount to anything. The Bible said in Amos 8:11 "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:” I want to say again I know that some writers say this has reference to the gospel in hands of the Catholic church. The Catholic Church is a counterfeit organization and has never preached the pure gospel. You couldn't say they dole out a little here and a little there. By saying that, you'd have to admit the Catholic Church has the pure gospel. I say they do not have it. The trouble is not with those who do not have the truth but with those who have it and are afraid to preach it. They just dole it out a little at a time for the remuneration they get from it, because they will lose out if they preach the whole truth. The world does not want the truth today neither in the days gone by. Thus the point I am trying to make in the opening of this third seal with the black horse is that it represents a famine of hearing the true gospel of the Son of God. If all of the preaching and the programs on radio and television today were the pure gospel of the Son of God instead of a makeshift preaching, this country would be turned upside down. But there's a famine in hearing the word of the Lord. About all the preaching you hear on television today is graveyard stories and beautiful illustrations. They will not get to the heart of the scriptures and tell what it means, what Jesus died for and where he is. They will not tell what the sinner has to do to be saved. So there's a famine in the hearts of people today for lack of hearing the gospel of the Son of God.
Chapter 6:7 “And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see." Use only "Come" here. Here is another picture, another panorama, another scene that we want to look at.
Chapter 6:8 "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." Hell means Hades in this verse. Hell does not mean the place of torment in all places in the Old Testament or the New Testament. Hell only means the place of torment when it is translated from the Greek word Gehenna. Hades follows directly at death or after death. What is Hades? It is the state of the disembodied soul from the body. I didn't say purgatory. No, I've not found that yet. It's just not in there, but Hades is. I want to give you a little illustration right here to prove what I'm talking about. David, in his prophecy concerning the death of the Son of God, wrote in his personal way as if it was concerning himself, but it was actually prophecy concerning the Son of God. He said in Psalms 16:10 "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." Some people think that Christ went to hell, the place of torment. They believe he preached to the spirits in torment, that he had paid the price for sin and had set everyone free. That would have been an additional torment, wouldn't it? Or else they could be released from that hell and have another chance and they just did not have. There is a difference in a "state" and a place. What was David talking about when he said "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell;"? On the day of Pentecost Peter stated what David said, thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades. Did Christ's soul occupy Hades? Yes. Christ's soul was disembodied and by virtue of his blood made atonement for sin. He sprinkled his blood on the mercy seat and made atonement for the sins of the world. However, God did not leave his soul in that state. He was only in that state for three days and nights then his body being raised from the grave, his soul and body were reunited. It also says in that verse, "........neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." The body of Jesus lay in the grave three days and nights and did not see corruption or did not decompose. I want to add this. All of our friends and loved ones-- saints or sinners--are in Hades. Someone said, "What do you mean?" I mean those who have died in Christ, children of God, their spirits are in a disembodied state. They are in the presence of God today, and they occupy a hadean state. Every person who has died without God is in a disembodied state. It is the hadean state which is between death and the resurrection as we understand the disembodiment. The Bible speaks of that hell (the place) they are in as a bottomless pit. But they are in hell just the same. The souls of God's children are in heaven just the same. They are occupying a hadean condition or state, and it's not talking about the place. The souls are in that hadean state now of disembodiment, and their bodies are in graves. Their bodies might have been cremated with their ashes scattered to the four winds. Yet when the day of the resurrection comes, that body will be given life anew. The disembodied soul will then re-enter the resurrected body and then will be fulfilled what David said in Psalm 17:15 "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness." I buried my father in Union Cemetery out from Fountain Run, Kentucky a ways, the old home church cemetery, several years ago. The body we buried was just that old tabernacle, the house he lived in while he was here. On August the third in the morning about 7:20, his soul, that spirit, the inner man left him and went away to God. He's separated tonight from the body that lies up there in the cemetery. Therefore, he is in a hadean state, the body and soul separated. But one day after a while God will say it's enough. The sound of the trumpet will be heard by the angels, and they will be sent to gather from the four winds of the earth those who are in their graves. My dad's soul will come back in the clouds with Jesus, and the body will go up to meet him. There it will be reunited eternally. Did someone say the soul had to enter the body in the grave before it would live again? Romans 8:11 tells us "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelled in you." We who are saved will all have a body like the body of the Son of God. This old mortality will be swallowed up of life, and the former things that we have had to endure and contend with down here will have passed away forever. The truth of this seal we are talking about in verse eight is certainty of death's coming. He said the power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. And I don't think we are through yet. We've just gotten to this fourth seal. However, I don't think the beasts here are the four-legged kind, but warring nations. I want to call your attention to this man on the pale horse or rather he that sat on this horse with Death and Hades following right along with him. It's following you and me today too. It's going to catch up with us some of these days. The separation is going to take place. There might be some living here today, our children or grandchildren who will be living here on this earth when the last stage will take place.
Chapter 6:9 "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word o God, and for the testimony which they held:"
Chapter 6:10 "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" The fourth and fifth seals are connected. How? The fourth seal said they had power given to them over the fourth part of the earth to kill with the sword, with hunger, with death and with the beasts of the earth. It has already been fulfilled. You'll find that in better than 50 million of the saints of God have given their lives for their belief and what they possess. This is the affect the gospel had on those who had the power to put them to death. We are going to talk about who they were later on. Who were the ones who cried out in verse ten, those under the altar of God? Where is that altar? Is it in heaven? If there is an altar in heaven, I haven't read about it. If you can find it, you tell me where it is. When we get to heaven, we won't need the altar. The altar is used down here with the benefits of the altar being received down here. We won't need it when get to the other world. Here are souls of people that were seen under the altar of God, and they cried out. When? Well, let's see. When Abel was killed by Cain, his own brother, Abel had just made an offering unto God that consisted of a lamb. Its blood was shed, and its body was offered in sacrifice upon an altar that Abel had made. In the eleventh chapter of the Hebrew letter, it says, by faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain whereby he obtained witness that he was righteous. We find Cain bringing of the fruits of the ground, the works of his own hands without faith, and he offered his offering. God didn't accept it, and it made Cain furious. That gets us right back to the second seal, too, doesn't it. What happened? He killed his brother. God said, Cain, where is your brother? He said, Am I my brother's keeper? He denied knowing the whereabouts of Abel. But God said the voice of thy brother's blood cried out unto me from the ground. The souls under the altar of God were seen in the time of the shedding of their blood in the time of their death. And they were crying out vengeance against their murderer. The blood of Abel was crying out the same thing. I'm glad we have a scripture that tells us of One’s blood which speaks better things than the blood of Abel. This scripture tells of the blood of Jesus being shed for mercy upon those that are lost and without God. Therefore his blood spoke better things than the blood of Abel that cried out for vengeance against his murderer. What was said to these under the altar that were dying? I think John saw them in the time of their death. If he didn't, I want someone to tell me how long they were in heaven before they were given their white robes. Did they go to heaven and stay up there a while in the hadean state without a white robe of righteousness? This Bible said white robes were given to everyone of them. They were told to rest for a little season until their fellow servants should give their lives as they had. They are resting and waiting today. According to the teachings of the word of God, there's going to come a time when the civil powers will exercise authority over us. We will lose this liberty we have enjoyed for so long, and have taken for granted it will be here always. When this liberty is gone, you will find more people looking for hiding places to worship God than you ever found at church when they had that privilege. When deprived, see how quickly people want back freedoms that have been liberally bestowed upon them. Look at the extent they'll go to exercise their rights as did those in the Dark Ages. They hid out in the dens and caves of the earth carrying on their services, and the Catholics wrote our history charging us as heretics. When you read in history about the heretics, you can say a Catholic or a Catholic sympathizer wrote that history, and he talking about the Baptist. Their name might not have been Baptist. It might have been Albigenses, Waldenses or some other name, but their doctrines were the same as we hold today. There are two connecting thoughts in the previous lesson I would like to discuss. One is in reference to the fact that as the gospel is preached, (It has been preached in every age of the world.) all sermons include death. If it had not been for the death of Christ, our sins would not have been paid for. This is the reason death is included in the opening of the seals. The gospel explains to everyone how it's appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. The second thought I want to connect to the first is the view from the opening of the fifth seal. As I previously said, it's a bit peculiar to have a book sealed with seven seals opening one seal at a time while not actually reading the book. Instead of it being read, it was pictured in a panorama, scenery, or in symbol which would give the contents under each seal. When he had opened the fifth seal in
Chapter 6:9: "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:” This, no doubt, is having reference to the martyrs who gave their lives because they were preachers of the gospel. Their cries were not after they had died and their souls had gone to heaven. Their prayers were in death.
Chapter 6:10 "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" The Lord didn't answer that prayer. He does answer before we get out of this book. The climax of the things we are studying will be found in the twentieth chapter of this book. God didn't tell them how long it would be until vengeance would be poured out upon a persecuting world. But he did say after giving each of them white robes, they should rest yet for a little season. Now, in the eyes of God, two thousand years would be a little season for the Bible tells us that a thousand years is as one day with the Lord. These martyrs have been waiting and resting from their labors for nearly two thousand years. They will have to wait until their fellow servants and their brethren should be killed. This should tell us something--their fellow servants are to be killed just as they were. According to this word, before God's vengeance is poured out on a wicked and persecuting world, others will give their lives as did the apostles and the millions of martyrs many years ago.