October 16, 2023
Well-loved broadcasters David and Karen Mains launch their third podcast with a conversation about David’s insight on the Book of Revelation.
This is the third of twelve presentations based on the final and fascinating book of the Bible. A major truth in Revelation could be stated this way. History doesn’t just continue on indefinitely. It’s headed toward a showdown between the forces of good and evil, God and Satan, and according to this book we are studying, the devil wins.
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife noted author, Karen Mains. Our subject for today, the last book in the Bible, The Book of Revelation. Here’s David and Karen Mains.
David: David and Karen Mains here and we call these visits before we go. I kind of like that name. I’m getting used to it.
Karen: Well, we ran it past focus groups and friends and everyone responded really positively to it. It conveys the urgency of why we’re doing before We Go. It’s a common phrase in our culture and people sort of get it, you know, the fact that we’re of that certain age where you think daily of this could not in a morbid way. This could be the last day because we’re…
David: …we may be gone tomorrow. You know, I have an interesting thought as we project where we’ll be headed in this series. We still have the opportunity to share what is on our hearts, but we have all of the archives of the programs we did, 20 years of programming. And Karen, many of the names on those programs we did interviews with people will recognize now. For example, in earlier years, I recorded a number of times with Chuck Colson. Remember Chuck Colson?
Karen: Well, everyone our age and a little bit younger, a couple decades, will know who Chuck Colson was. The young ones maybe won’t know what he… he was the special counsel to President Nixon… got caught up in the Watergate.
David: Yeah, he was one of the…
Karen: …gate mess.
David: One of the problem guys.
Karen: And this…
David: … was put in jail.
Karen: But he was in jail. This was before he became a Christian. He had a dramatic conversion. I mean, the story is just extraordinary.
David: He was born again was the name of this book.
Karen: He started a prison fellowship. I mean, you know this, I often say the story of Christianity is not when we fail. It’s that there’s this reclamation, redemption and restoration process that goes on.
David: Chuck Colson was a guest on our broadcast, and I listened to some of those programs not that long ago. And I thought, wow…
Karen: Yeah, I did too.
David: It’s nice to hear from him again. It’s better like he has a chance to say some things before he’s gone.
Karen: His intellect was remarkable.
Karen: And the fact that he grasped at such a young point in his conversion, the theology of Christendom and could explain it the way he did was a testimony to that intellect,
Karen: …but also to a spiritual walk.
David: So, you remember years ago, here’s a name some people won’t recognize at all, but it was a big name, Catherine Marshall,
David: Peter Marshall was Catherine’s husband. He was the chaplain of the Senate and he died early.
Karen: I think he had a heart attack.
David: I don’t recall, but Catherine wrote a book about him called A Man Called Peter, which became a huge film.
David: And you had the opportunity to fly down to Florida.
Karen: I was shipped down there to interview Catherine Marshall, a young woman. I was a young woman.
David: She wasn’t.
Karen: No, she wasn’t. And you reminded me of what I said when I came back.
David: When you came back, I said, what did you think of her? I know exactly what you said. Do you remember?
Karen: I know she was crusty. What did I say?
David: You said she’s a tuple bird, which was a compliment.
Karen: That’s not, yeah. It sounds like a slam, but you know, when you go through life and have the sorts of losses and experiences she has and turn them into something good. You have to be kind of a tough old bird to do that, but she was an extraordinary lady. I was a very young woman interviewing her.
David: And she was a best-selling author.
Karen: She was a best-selling author known all the way across the country. So we have Catherine Marshall’s interviews.
David: It’ll be good to hear her voice again.
Karen: It will be good, yeah.
David: I’m thinking of interviews I did. I don’t think you did, but I did with a person who affected our lives profoundly. That was Francis Shaffer.
Karen: Oh yeah.
David: Talk about Francis Shaffer.
Karen: Well Francis was a pastor here in the states who went to Switzerland and started an organization called Libri.
Karen: And it was to examine the intellectual aspects of…
David: … the foundations of the faith.
Karen: The foundations of the faith, but not to avoid their intellectual power. And he was just an impact. He impacted our generation. We had all kinds of friends who went over and studied at Libri.
David: When you listened to tapes, you and I would listen to those tapes and tears would come to our eyes.
Karen: Yeah. I mean it was the first time we had anyone with that kind of intellectual authority have that kind of resonance and that big of an audience, particularly for our generation. I mean there were people who thought as well as he did, but they just didn’t have the platform that he did.
David: I’m going to name one more. I could name many, many people.
Karen: Well, we’re doing this because these are tapes that we want to rerun on the days ahead. Before we go, we’d like to make them available to people who…
David: Leonard Ravenhill.
Karen: Most people won’t know that I don’t think.
David: Any pastor would, and a lot of older people would. And his books, we’re talking about people who wrote a lot of books.
David: One of Leonard’s books was America’s Too Young to Die.
David: But he had a prophetic voice.
Karen: Was he a theologian or a philosopher?
David: I don’t, I think I would call him a prophet.
Karen: Prophet. Okay. So, it was basically a revival as far as…
David: That was his topic. He spoke about it with passion, but also with incredible intellect and power. I remember flying down to Texas and visiting with him in his home. He was a young man.
Karen: He loved you.
David: Yeah, he did.
Karen: Because you had the same heart for revival that he did. He imparted a lot of that to you as well, I think.
David: Yeah, no question. There are just so many names that I could come up with and in the days ahead we will be able to replay those, and they will sound as current as one could.
Karen: It’s so exciting. Isn’t that wonderful that we can do that?
David: Yeah, we’re going to go back now to this whole topic of revelation. And this is the series that I did. I didn’t feel right about preaching it in a church. It has a sensationalism about it. And I didn’t want it to have a pulpit sound. I wanted to be… When I learned radio, I learned that you listened to radio one at a time. You didn’t sit down and listen to the radio as a group. So, if you’re going to be the one who speaks on radio, don’t speak to a group.
Karen: Don’t preach.
David: Yeah, don’t preach.
Karen: What a very intimate meeting. Did we learn that on our own? Did someone… I don’t remember having any coaching in this.
David: No, I learned it on my own.
David: The person, my uncle, who had the program before I did, he said “David just talk one-on-one. Don’t think of a crowd.”
Karen: So, he was coaching you a little.
David: Yes, very much he was. And I learned that, and I felt that was the way to present revelation.
Karen: Okay I agree.
David: Just talk one-on-one. So, this is the third of 12. And I think if people are listening, they’re going to get caught. And they’re going to say, wow I want to hear the fourth one pretty quickly. And we’ll have them all in line. And then as time goes on, we’re going to pick up some other just for a very short time. What’s another topic you’d like to pick up?
Karen: Well, I’ve said in the first three broadcasts that I’m concerned about the lack of neighborliness, the loneliness quotient that’s just going up. It’s almost like a pandemic in our culture. And I think those of us who are church or other related, a lot of our listeners won’t be church people or really faith-based people and that’s fine. But people who care about other people, we can make a difference. And this is an area in our culture we can really make a difference if we act corporately and communally as a large group all across the United States of America and around the world. So, I’m concerned about that. That’s something I’ll talk about.
David: I also know you’re writing because you hide yourself away and nobody bothers me. And you’re talking about the value of listening and learning to listen well.
Karen: Yeah. I’ve led, I did for seven years, all kinds of listening groups. And all together there were about 350 people who went with me on that journey, and we really learned a lot together about the power of being heard and understood. So, I will get into that. I will talk about that. Can I say one thing about your revelation approach?
David: Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Karen: It’s a really good thing.
David: Okay, say it.
Karen: You believe in participatory learning.
Karen: You’re really concerned that the lecture format is one that’s being used but one that’s not really appropriate for our culture anymore. And participatory learning has been high on our list for probably decades. So, what you do with revelation is you ask the reader or the listener on the broadcast to go along with you on that. And one of the things that we’d love to have is feedback. You’ve given them assignments, but if they want to participate in the Revelation Project, because it will have a life after these broadcasts, we’d love to have their feedback.
David: After these podcasts. You’re not used to it yet, are you?
Karen: Yeah, after these podcasts. I’m sorry. If they want to impact it, we would love to receive feedback from them, letters, emails, and we can give that information out, so they’ll know how to get ahold of us.
David: Okay. Just kind of sit back and after a pause we’ll hear lesson three in this study on Revelation. In Revelation chapters four and five, there are many sidetracks that could take up our time if we chose to pursue them. But let me chart a course that I believe will leave us with a sense of satisfaction that we have profitably used the minutes we have for this message. This is the third of twelve presentations based on the final and fascinating book of the Bible. A major truth in Revelation could be stated this way. History doesn’t just continue on indefinitely. It’s headed toward a showdown between the forces of good and evil, God and Satan, and according to this book we are studying, the devil wins.
However, only temporarily. His time and the spotlight is limited. Each visit of ours gets us closer to those verses that spell out victory for Jesus. If you’re an outline person, let me tell you what’s been covered so far and where we are now. I call chapter one of Revelation brief introduction. Chapters two and three are seven short sermons. Now we begin a more extended section entitled Scroll of the Future. This new topic will take us all the way through chapter eleven. So, it’s chapter one brief introduction. Chapters two and three, seven short sermons. Chapters four through eleven, Scroll of the Future, with the first subtitle, Underscroll of the Future, Being Heavenly Worship. And that’s chapters four and five. Your reading assignment for this visit was chapters four and five of Revelation.
Here’s how this material begins. After this I looked and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. In a voice I heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, come up here. What’s next is important now. And I will show you what must take place after this. And all of a sudden, we are into prophecy. Which shouldn’t surprise us because back in chapter one we were told, blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy. This insider information regarding the world’s future then becomes the main subject of what follows all the way through chapter eleven. After heaven is described in the remaining verses of chapter four, to which I will soon return, we next pick up the matter of this marvelous scroll of the future that reveals events yet to come.
Here’s chapter five verses one through five. Then I saw on the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. This scroll was a rolled parchment sealed seven times along the edge, so all seven seals needed to be opened before the scroll’s contents could be examined. Books as we know them with pages didn’t yet exist. A seal is an impression made in soft wax by something hard and official looking such as an insignia ring of a monarch. This mark carries a stamp of great importance, and it also makes clear that no one is to open and read what’s inside such a sealed document except the intended party. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll. But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, do not weep. See the lion of the tribe of Judah the rooted David has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and seven seals.
This of course refers to Jesus. And once again we have an interesting new adjective describing God’s son. He’s triumphant. Do not weep. See the line of the tribe of Judah. The root of David has triumphed. Triumphant means victorious or conquering. In the epistles we get touches of words like this referring to the Christ, but hardly at all in the Gospels save for the time of the resurrection. Quickly in passing notice once again the difference in the presentation here in Revelation. So far in this book he’s frightening. He’s intimidating. Now he’s triumphant. He’s also worthy to open this special scroll of the future. Why? This text says because he has triumphed. Verse 6. Here finally is a flashback to a beautiful gospel picture. Then I saw a lamb looking as if it had been slain standing in the center of the throne. And he’s described.
Then verse 7. He the lamb came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the lamb. In verse 9 they sang a new song. Four living creatures plus twenty-four elders. That’s twenty-eight voices singing together. You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were slain. And with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God and they will reign on the earth. What do those words sound like? They’re very close to the short praise paragraph where Doxology, I’m hoping all of us are memorizing from Revelation chapter 1 to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. Keep listening.
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels. How many? Hold onto your hats, numbering thousands upon thousands. There’s more. And ten thousand times ten thousand. That’s a hundred million angels. There’s no way John could literally have counted all of them. So, I assume what he’s reporting here is that there was an overwhelming number of angels as far as his eyes could see. On occasion in my life, I’ve heard a really big earthly choir sing. Mormon Tabernacle Choir size. In such a sound moves me deeply all those voices. Here’s that size choir multiplied infinite times over in the text reads verse 12 in a loud voice they sang, Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise. Almost brings tears to your eyes, doesn’t it? But keep with me. There’s more. Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them singing to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever.
Then chapter five concludes the four living creatures said amen and the elders fell down and worshiped. Well, the Lamb hasn’t yet broken open the seven seals which means we still don’t know what is in that special scroll of the future. But with our next study one at a time those seals will come off. And three visits from now after a dramatic heavenly pause followed by some thunder, rumblings, flashes of fire, and an earthquake, we will finally start to see what that scroll of the future contains. Before I forget it, your reading assignments for our next visit is Revelation chapter 6 and the first verse of chapter 8. That will take us through the seven seals. Again, that’s Revelation chapter 6, skip chapter 7 for the moment, and the first verse of chapter 8. Our passage today began with John seeing a door standing open in heaven. That was back in chapter 4 verse 1. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, come up here and I will show you what must take place after this. At once I was in the Spirit. Apparently, this new experience was much like the one John wrote about back in chapter 1. There it reads, On the Lord’s Day, notice once again I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet. And instructed John to write on a scroll what he saw and sent it to the seven churches. This second time, when he is once again in a trance-like state, he reports, before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. Then he describes the scene. Rather than go into detail, I just want to make one overall observation. As we saw in chapter 5, backing up now to what’s here in chapter 4 as well, we can’t help but notice what a major part worship plays in the scenes described in both these chapters.
In this chapter 4, living creatures are introduced. And what are they doing? Day and night they never stop saying, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. Verse 9, whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fell down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. Lay there down there crowns before the throne and they say, you are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being. So, the scene, John’s letting us in on, is once again a setting that’s marked by worship, heavenly worship. Worship means to attribute worth to God. It’s in some way to show him reverence, respect or honor. Down through the century subjects have always bowed before their king. Kneeling or prostrating oneself in the presence of royalty is the body language of worship. It says even without words, you are the ruler, I am your subject. It’s also why people associate kneeling with praying and corporate worship.
A good way to understand worship is by learning to compliment those you say you love. Restated as you become comfortable speaking words of affirmation or praise to the human beings with whom you live. You gain experience that will help you tell God what it is you find commendable or praiseworthy about him. So, in a family or among close friends words like this should be spoken often. Grandpa was very proud of you, young man. Your solo was beautiful. This paper you wrote as outstanding. That outfit really looked great on you. And it was your aggressive play that sparked the rally. Pity the person who seldom been paid well-deserved compliments. Are you good at complimenting others? Not all that many people are. What about those closest to you? Dad, mom, sisters, and brothers, close friends, grandparents? Do these people know you value who they are and the important role they play in your life? And if they do know, is it because you told them or did they have to figure this out on their own? To put this negatively, if you can’t make positive comments about your earthly father or father figure, you probably won’t initially be good at making them about your heavenly father. To be more specific, if you’ve never said to your dad, I really appreciate the way you’ve always cared for my needs. You’ve probably never spoken such words to your heavenly father either. When my children were quite young, I recall teaching them about worship. What is it you like about God, I would ask. As youngsters, they would respond with comments like, he doesn’t tell lies. Oh, good, I would encourage them. God is truth. What else? He doesn’t get worn out and have to go to bed like we do. You’re doing well. And I would add God doesn’t have body parts. They get tired because God is spirit. What else? He doesn’t do bad things. Excellent. You’re doing so well. God is holy. God and sin don’t mix. Never have, never will. Any other ideas? He loves us. Yes, yes, that’s one of the best things about God. He loves us very much. If God was truthful and spirit and holy but not loving, that wouldn’t be very good, would it? And slowly they grew in their appreciation of who God is. For them, the easiest way of getting to know what God was like was by getting acquainted with Jesus. He was also loving and holy and truthful among many other commendable qualities. Jesus was not spirit, however, because he took on flesh in order to identify with us and we praise him for that.
Of course, worship isn’t limited just to our words. As we grow spiritually, we learn that it also relates to how we live. Paul puts it this way in Romans 12-1, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Therefore, serving Jesus by sacrificial acts throughout the week is worship just as much as singing praises to him on Sunday mornings in church. Here’s Hebrews 13:5. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess his name. So, it’s both lips and lives. If we express in words that we are really glad God cares for even the poor and the powerless, but in our lives we show such people no compassion whatsoever, something is definitely wrong. Worship can be expressed in so many ways. In dance, in poetry, painting, giving. I have a friend, a master chef, who’s great at worshiping God through his cooking.
The vast majority Christians today have never seen a vision of the resurrected Christ like John did. However, that doesn’t mean that worship can’t play a significant part in their lives. From my own journey, allow me to make a few suggestions. Some of them will require an investment of time.
One, think carefully about a sincere compliment you can pay to various members of your family or friends close to you. Then sometime in the next week or two find appropriate times to express these thoughts to the proper individual. Just a caution: A compliment is not the same as a thank you. We thank people for something they have done for us or given to us. We compliment or attribute worth to them for what we feel or believe about them.
Two, consider seriously a special compliment you can pay to God. Make it a statement of praise that is uniquely from you to Him. Maybe what you say will be something God has never been told before in quite the same way. Capture your precise thoughts in quite the same way. Capture your precise thoughts by writing it down. Be like the psalmist who recorded his words so others could see them. This takes longer but it’s worth the extra time required. If you don’t know how to begin with what I really like about you God is. Got it?
Three, by changing the words a bit the praise paragraph we are learning together can be said in worship directly to the Lord. In worship it will sound something like this: “Jesus, I know you love me and have freed me from my sins by your blood and made me part of your kingdom as a priest to serve your God and Father. So I say with sincerity and deep feeling that you Jesus are worthy of glory and power forever and ever amen.” Got the idea?
Four, not all songs are hymn-wasting in church, a tribute worth to God. Some are about witnessing, missions, the Bible, dedication and so on but certain hymns or praise songs beautifully express worship. Learn to pay close attention to the words of the music you hear and sing. Be aware when you are exalting the Lord. Take note of the songs that express for you a genuine sense of worship.
Five, start to compile a list of good qualities you’re discovering about God. See if you can find scripture passages or stories that back up what you write down. Over time, attempt to come up with at least 25 different attributes or characteristics of God. It’ll take a while. Be original. For example, do you believe that God has a sense of humor? Why? Is he multilingual? Creative. A good communicator. Did he by way of the Holy Spirit speak to you from one of the sermons to the seven churches? Try to use more contemporary words as you compile your own this such as God you are full of surprises. God you are my day planner. A meticulous record keeper. Unshockable. A promise keeper. A great gift giver. Creator of this incredible world and of an even more incredible world to come. My problem solver. Most understanding. God, you are an amazing networker. In the long run the only one whose opinion matters to me and so on. Maybe even God you are intimidating, sometimes even frightening Lord.
Six. As we continue through Revelation keep asking yourself what helpful lessons am I learning about God? For instance, here in chapter 4 we quickly pick up that God is eternal. Who was, and is, and is to come. Got it? In chapter 5 the Lamb Jesus is praised as worthy. In the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, I’m sure you recognize the line, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Well in heaven a great deal of what is happening as we have seen in today’s passages is worship. Not so much here on earth I’m afraid. Maybe not so much in your life either, but that can change. I say let us learn to participate here on earth in the heavenly worship of our triumphant Christ. Again, let us learn to participate here on earth in the heavenly worship of our triumphant Christ. Years ago on the National Public Radio show, Terry Gross, the host of Fresh Air, asked a guest who had been talking about worship, if God is self-sufficient, all powerful and such, why then does he need our worship? The guest made some inadequate replies, but my thought at the time was that the host had asked the wrong question. My belief is that God doesn’t need our worship, it is humankind that needs to worship God. Terry Gross’s question should have been, why do we need to worship? So what have we learned so far about the book of Revelation?
Well, we know this is a message of great importance from the risen and glorified Christ to his beloved Apostle John, not some totally unknown person named John, and that this significant message was initially for the early church. Also, Revelation involves a sealed message regarding the future that came from the hand of God and will be opened for us by the Lamb, and we’re learning about worship, a quick closing thought. When someone pays you a compliment, how does that make you feel? I’m not talking about flattery, sweet talk, plover, but rather a from the heart compliment. I read your book and found it to be extremely helpful, the part I especially liked was, if you’ve been working out, I mean you really look good. I think I had a mental block on this project, but the creative way you think just opened my mind to some new ways to attack it, I really admire that quality in you. If you’re all like I am, I believe when someone pays you a sincere compliment you take note of it. Partly you do because most of us don’t get all that many compliments. I believe God would say that’s true of him as well. Lots of requests, thanks every so often, but compliments, praise, attributing worth to him, worship, not all that much. In scripture I believe one of the reasons David was called a man after God’s own heart was that he was such an exceptional worshipper. Read the Psalms. Most of them are David attributing worth to the Lord and he is very good at it. We can get good at it too. I can, you can, and I assure you God will take notice.
Outro: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go podcast. If you enjoy this podcast please remember to rate, review, and share an apple podcast or on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2019 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60189.
Get a copy of David Mains’ The Remarkable Revelation – Sermon Series.
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