An exposition of Revelation 17:1-17. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered a Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 31, 2008.
It is one of the things that draw us to the book of Revelation. Those strange, exotic images. In chapter 6 the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride forth unto the world stage bringing triumph and terror. We stand in awe of the glory of the Gospel and the horror of God’s coming judgment. When you read the book you can feel a bit like walking through a dark room with flashing strobe lights and images coming and going. It
can be overwhelming. It can leave you dazed and confused. I remember reading an article about end times a few years ago and the title of the article was “Last Daze” that’s D-A-Z-E. And I certainly understand that response. When dealing with the book of Revelation I think it is important to keep the context always before you. John had been exiled. He was called by the Lord to write to the shaken and struggling saints of Asia Minor. The purpose was to encourage those troubled saints. They were fighting for their lives. Persecution was fierce and faith cost them dearly. How do you stand when the world is “out of control?” How do you remain faithful when all hell breaks loose in your life? This book meant something to those who first received it. Yes it speaks of the end of all things and what will happen as Christ establishes His kingdom but the focus is not all on the future. The Christian in every age finds strength and comfort in his struggles from the words of John as he recorded what he saw and heard. Our text this morning is found in Revelation chapter 7.
Text: Revelation 7:1-17
You remember that moment in chapter 5 when no one worthy was found to open the scroll. You remember how John wept uncontrollably. Is there no one with enough authority and power to unleash God’s sovereign will? “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.” Hope began to stir in John’s heart and he turned to find a lamb standing though slaughtered. That glorious image of the Lord Jesus – slain yet alive. A lamb yet powerful and mighty. Worship then exploded around the throne. A new song rang out. Then in chapter 6 the seals were opened. The Gospel went forth conquering and to conquer. Then war rode out followed by famine and then death and Hades. A judgment was unleashed that struck terror in the hearts of those who witnessed it. Kings and leaders; rich and poor; slaves and free men cried out for the rocks to crush them. They preferred death to facing the one seated on the throne and the Lamb. John ends chapter 6 by asking, “Who can stand?” Meaning who can possibly survive this coming judgment? Keep in mind the book of Revelation would have been read to a congregation. It would not have been analyzed and taken apart as we are doing. The pastor of the church would have said to the church gathered, “We have a letter from bishop John and I would like to read it to you.” Their beloved bishop was exiled for the faith. Others were dying. I think they would have been reeling a bit from chapters 2 and 3. Then the scene in chapter 4 would have taken their breath away. They would have wept with John in chapter 5 and been overwhelmed by chapter 6. And before moving on to the 7th seal, John paused to encourage them.
In chapter 7 John is answering the question at the end of chapter 6 – “who can stand in the great day of wrath?” Who will survive God’s sovereign judgment?
As we walk through chapter 7 what is clear to me is…
Thesis: In the midst of great turmoil, tragedy and strife God graciously preserves a
people to the praise of His glorious grace.
- God sovereignly preserves a people. (7:1-8)
- God graciously preserves a great multitude. (7:9-14)
- God preserves a people upon whom He will lavish His grace. (7:15-17)
To a troubled, shaken people burdened by relentless persecution, frightened by an uncertain future the Lord of the church says, “Fear not. God has a people. A people He sovereignly preserves; a people to numerous to count; upon whom He will lavish His