TEXT FOR PRAYER
Be Not Stony-ground Hearers
This afternoon we shall begin reading on page 46 of Christ’s Object Lessons:
“He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
“The seed sown upon stony ground finds little depth of soil. The plant springs up quickly, but the root can not penetrate the rock to find nutriment to sustain its growth, and it soon perishes. Many who make a profession of religion are stony-ground hearers. Like the rock underlying the layer of earth, the selfishness of the natural heart underlies the soil of their good desires and aspirations. The love of self is not subdued. They have not seen the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the heart has not been humbled under a sense of its guilt. This class may be easily convinced, and appear to be bright converts, but they have only a superficial religion.”
There is a class of people who are very susceptible to Present Truth, but who, just as soon as persecution, reproach, inconvenience and trials arise, immediately recant their positions. The Truth has no root in such, and soon withers away from their minds and hearts. Let us now kneel and pray for depth of soil in our hearts, that we may hold fast our faith, our convictions, under any circumstances.
To receive The Revelation, the last book of the Bible, John was twice taken in the Spirit. To see this we shall read Rev. 1:10, and 4:2.
Rev. 1:10 – “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.”
This is John’s first time in the Spirit, and while in It he received Revelation chapters 1, 2, and 3.
Rev. 4:2 – “And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.”
This is John’s second time in the Spirit, the time he received Revelation chapters 4 to 22.
The first nine verses of chapter 1 contain John’s introduction to the book, and is a brief summary of what he saw. The remaining verses of chapter 1 contain the Lord’s introduction to The Revelation, after which in chapters 2 and 3 is given a special message to be delivered to the seven churches. This is all John saw while he was in the Spirit the first time.
Now coming to Revelation chapters 4 and 5, we read what John saw his second time in the Spirit.
Rev. 4; 5 – “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. And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 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. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 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.
“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. 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. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, Who liveth for ever and ever, 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, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.”
“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. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 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.
“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. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. 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 odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
“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; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 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 honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever.”
Chapters 4 and 5, we see, contain a scene of a special event which caused the Book to be unsealed. That which came out of the Book is, in the fullest sense, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, of the One Who only was worthy to open the Book.
Thus it is that “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” begins with the sixth chapter and ends with the last chapter of the Book, the chapters in which are recorded the things which the breaking of the seven seals disclosed. Yes, The Revelation consists of the things which were sealed with seven seals.
It is clear now that It is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto Him”; that is, to Jesus God gave the Book. Jesus took it, broke the seals with which it was sealed and laid open the things which no one could reveal but He. The Seven Seals, therefore, cover all “The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto Him,” and consists of the things which came out of the Book. The Revelation, moreover, is in seven parts, because each one of the seals disclosed a certain part of The Revelation: The first seal disclosed the things recorded in chapter six, verse two; the second seal disclosed the things of verse four; the third seal disclosed the things of verses five and six; the fourth seal disclosed the things of verses 7 and 8; the fifth seal disclosed the things of verses nine to eleven; the sixth seal disclosed the things of verse twelve and down to the eighth chapter; the seventh seal disclosed the things of chapters eight to twenty-two, inclusive. That all these chapters are a continuation of the sixth chapter is seen by the fact that every chapter begins with the conjunction “And.”
The Revelation, then, is thus divided into seven parts. And so when we speak of the Seven Seals, we are in reality speaking of The Revelation.
The last of the seals, the seventh, is subdivided into still other seven divisions, the Seven Trumpets, which begin with the eighth chapter, and apparently end with the eleventh chapter.
The next thing to note is the event which caused the Book to be opened. For a ready comprehension, I have reproduced a pen drawing of the event. And I may mention that I have been very careful to pen it exactly as John describes it.
For lack of space, though, the myriads of angels round about the throne are missing in the drawing. Here is the drawing:
What is the event which caused the Book’s seals to be broken? – To find the answer to this question, we should first consider the members in the assembly. There we see One on the throne, then the Lamb, next the elders, and the myriads of angels round about the throne, also the “beasts,” who themselves testify that they are a symbolical representation of the redeemed, for they say, “for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” Rev. 5:9.
What else could such an assembly as this represent but a Judgment. There we see the Judge of Justice, our great Advocate, sitting on the throne, then the Lamb, and the jury of twenty-four, also the angelic witnesses, and the four beasts representing the redeemed. Moreover, The Revelation itself most emphatically declares that the event prophetically is the Judgment in session, for it says: “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Rev. 14:7.
The prophet Daniel, too, whose book is a complement to The Revelation, was given a glimpse of the Judgment. He saw the Ancient of Days sitting on the throne, also the thrones upon which evidently sit the twenty-four elders. He also saw the myriads of angels, and the “One like unto the Son of man,” the Lamb, brought near before the Ancient of Days.
In juxtaposition the prophecy by Daniel with The Revelation by John stand as follows:
The only difference, you see, is that Daniel was shown the Judgment being set up, whereas John saw it in full session.
The Revelation, moreover, in the following verses again and again endeavors to make us see that the event there portrayed is the Judgment in session:
“Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.”
“And I saw thrones,” John declares, “and judgment was given unto them.” Rev. 20:4.
John truly penned it as a prophecy, but when it actually takes place then God’s agency on earth, the Spirit of Prophecy in the Church is to proclaim that the event has actually taken place.
Since the records of both the dead and the living must be reviewed by the Judicial Tribunal, the First Angel’s Message (Rev. 14:6), must be proclaimed in both periods, in the period of the judgment of the dead, and by a loud cry in the period of the judgment of the living. The direct application of the First Angel’s Message, therefore, also the call to come out of Babylon, are actually made in the day the earth is lightened with the glory of the angel. (See Rev. 18:1-4). The Revelation, therefore, is to be more fully understood during the judgment of the living.
The light that now shines on our path is an unmistakable evidence that we are approaching the time of the judgment of the living, the time when “the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit up on the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” Matt. 25:31-33.
Now since The Revelation unveils the Judicial proceedings of the whole human race, and since it opened with the Book sealed with seven seals, and also since The Revelation, as shown before, consists of the things which were in the sealed Book, then it is logical that The Revelation contains a brief sketch of human history from the beginning of the world to the end.
The contents of the Seven Seals therefore comprehends all mankind; and must begin with Adam, the first man on earth. This fact is again particularly noticeable from the fact that the things which the first five seals revealed are covered in one, two, or three verses respectively (whereas the last two seals which contain the things that pertain to the Judgment of the living, to the people who must know that their cases are on trial) are quite long: The record of the things which the sixth seal reveals is 22 verses long, and the seventh seal is 15 chapters long.
You see, my friends, that what we have in this study is not a theory, not someone’s far-fetched and fanciful idea, but God’s whole Truth. This is Bible indeed, and what a lesson, too!
How, then, can you and I afford to let our salvation slip from our grasp? How can we afford to be careless and indifferent to these most solemn words in all the history of man-kind? Shall we not prepare to meet our God in peace? Shall we not now as wise virgins fill our vessels with this light-giving oil so as to be able to refill our lamps? Or shall we as fools neglect our opportunity, and thus be hindered from arriving at the “door” before it is closed against us? How terrible even the thought of hearing the Master from within say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”
It is because we have come to just such a solemn time as this that these studies through great expense and through great sacrifice, are scattered as the leaves of autumn throughout Laodicea.
Why should anyone cheat himself of eternal life, crowned with joy and happiness? God forbid that any of us should be found such as the parable presents the five foolish virgins to be.