Revelation 1:4-8 Part 7

Since we covered a lot of ground in the older Scripture last Lord’s Day, let me just spend a few moments recapping. You remember that Aaron, Moses’ brother, was to bring fire from the Altar of Whole Burnt Offerings into the Holy Place; and there he was to burn incense before the Holy of Holies to produce a “cloud”.

On every occasion in which God made Himself visibly and audibly “present” to His people, there was a manifestation of the cloud. And the tabernacle was a man-made representation of the real throne-room/judgement seat/sanctuary. So Aaron’s man-produced incense cloud before the Holy of Holies represented the clouds which accompanied and encompassed the glorious Presence of Yahveh. And that’s why it’s called the “Glory Cloud”.

Its presence, in every case, is described as being awesome and fearsome in every way, both by sound and by sight; and it was “sanctuary” for God’s people, but it was judgment, condemnation and catastrophe for the stiffnecked and rebellious.

So when the apostle John receives Revelation of Jesus Christ, and the Word of God says “LO, He is coming with the clouds…..”, it is a direct reference to the Glory Cloud. Almighty God – the Son – the risen and ascended Jesus the Christ; the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is coming with the clouds. This is that which is necessary to be done in quickness!

“LO! He is coming with the clouds. And every eye will see Him, all who pierced Him……”

Let me just call your attention to those who will witness His Parousia, His “coming with the clouds”: It is “…..all who pierced Him”! “Every eye will see Him, all who pierced Him.”

Who is it that pierced Him? We need go no further than Scripture itself (Acts 2:22-23). Peter, preaching the Gospel at Pentecost, said “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene… nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death….. therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both lord and Christ – this Jesus who you crucified.”

Peter says it again in Acts 5:30: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, who you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.”

In Stephen’s sermon before his martyrdom (Acts 7), he said that the judaizers were “the betrayers and murderers” of Jesus.

Now….. who is it that will witness the things that are necessary to be done in quickness? And that “the time is near”? All the things in this letter are necessary to be done “in quckness”. And who will witness it all? It’s the betrayers and murderers of Jesus; those who “pierced Him”. This generation - the murderers of God’s Christ will witness His Parousia.

“And all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.”

What in all the world has the evangelical Church done with this verse!!! What God has said from His Sanctuary; what Jesus the Christ has witnessed; what John has heard and written; what the Churches received and understood…….. all of it has been reinterpreted from the standpoint of the earth and all of mankind!

Every “tribe” of the world will see Jesus come……and they will all “mourn”? What’s the sense of that? Is this the “second coming” of Jesus in the clouds to wreak judgment on it all and destroy the world with fire and brimstone?

Or is this the second coming of Jesus when he sets up His kingdom in Jerusalem, and everybody else in the world is “sorry” they didn’t believe?

Or is this the occasion when Jesus “floats down to earth in the clouds” in clear view of everybody all around the world; and everybody says, “oh my, we’ve had it now! It was all true!”

Or is this the time when Jesus appears in the sky (in the clouds) and all the “Christians” disappear? And trains don’t stop; and planes fall from the sky; and cars go right through red lights – all because pilots and drivers are raptured! And then everybody else cries!

“All the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him”, says God.

The imaginations of men run wild. And the poor folks in the pews of the Churches and the folding seats in the tents are enthralled with those imaginative fables as they’re preached with passion and conviction!

But where, in all the rest of the Bible, would one find a revelation from God similar to any one of these? (That’s a rhetorical question!) But God is consistent; He never changes; what He said in one place is absolutely consistent with everything else He said. So, where else did He say any such thing?

I’m being a bit “flippant” here; but what do we do when we read a verse in the text (which, by the way, is supposed to be clearly understood in the Churches to which John is writing), - a verse in the text – which needs clarifying? What do we do?

Well, Revelation of Jesus Christ, from Almighty God the Father, is perfectly consistent with all the rest of His Revelation! So, rather than men making stuff up, and preaching mythology and fable from the pulpits, why go to all that trouble when they can just go to the rest of “what God said”? It’s a whole lot less trouble to just quote what He said than to make up new stuff!! If one spends all the energy to make up stories, then you have to put on a show in order to convince others that your story is a good one!

Mythology requires talent! A good story teller is a very talented person! It takes skill and hard work to devise great fables and make others believe them. And when all those skills come together, and the tales are good enough to stand your hair up and cause goose bumps, there are many who are quite ready to believe, and follow – and write checks.

Folks love to be mesmerized and captivated by great sagas and legend and heroic, earth-defying gods. And they love “knowing” things that most others don’t know about epic, supra-historic figures and about end-of-the-earth wars and drama and super-human battles between good and evil and God and the devil. And they feel really good about it when they have this “higher knowledge” than anybody else has about end-of-the-world things. (The story tellers are good at what they do.)

But what has God said?

“and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. YES! Amen.”

In Genesis chapter forty nine, Jacob calls his twelve sons together and blesses each of them. And then we read: “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.”

In Numbers chapter one we find the numbering of the twelve tribes; “Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, every male, by their polls” And “These are they that were called of the congregation, the princes of the tribes of their fathers; they were the heads of the thousands of Israel.”

The twelve tribes of Israel were well-defined by family; and, upon reaching the promised land, they were given, by Joshua (Jesus) specific areas of Israel in which that defined family was to live. “Twelve” is therefore the numerically perfect “whole”; and it is the number for Israel carried through the entire Bible – even through the Newer Testament.

For example, hear our Lord in Matthew chapter nineteen: “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Here is Doctor Luke in chapter twenty two: “that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and ye shall sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

James writes something very interesting: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion, greeting.” James writes to the refugee Jewish Christians in the nations, and he calls them the “whole” of Israel – the twelve tribes! Because Jesus had said for His disciples to gather His people from every tribe and get them out of Israel!

And here is the last one; it’s Jesus Himself, Matthew 24, quoted almost perfectly here in our text: “and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

So, you see, when Gods Revelation has to do with “the tribes”, it is the twelve tribes of Israel – the “whole”, perfect number. Later on the whole Church will be described as “the twelve tribes of Israel”.

So, what do we say of the text? “and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. YES! Amen.” Is it what God said? Or is it from the imaginations of men.

When God called Israel out of Egypt and created her, He called her “heaven and earth”. But the prophetic Word of God, having proclaimed Israel’s destruction for her adultery and idolatry, also proclaims a “new heavens and a new earth”.

Listen to the prophet Isaiah, chapter sixty five:

2) I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, that walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts;

3) a people that provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens, and burning incense upon bricks;

4) that sit among the graves, and lodge in the secret places; that eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;

5) that say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

6) Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, yea, I will recompense into their bosom,

7) your own iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith Yahveh, that have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills; therefore will I first measure their work into their bosom.

8) Thus saith Yahveh, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sake, that I may not destroy them all.

9) And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains; and my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.

10) And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.

11) But ye that forsake Yahveh, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for fortune, and that fill up mingled wine unto destiny;

12) I will destine you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter; because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but ye did that which was evil in mine eyes, and chose that wherein I delighted not.

13) Therefore thus saith the Lord Yahveh, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be put to shame;

14) behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall wail for vexation of spirit.

15) And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen; and the Lord Yahveh will slay thee; and he will call his servants by another name:

16) so that he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.

17) For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”

And Isaiah again, in the next chapter – chapter sixty six:

15) For, behold, Yahveh will come with fire, and his chariots shall be like the whirlwind; to render his anger with fierceness, and his rebuke with flames of fire.

16) For by fire will Yahveh execute judgment, and by his sword, upon all flesh; and the slain of Yahveh shall be many.

17) They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves to go unto the gardens, behind one in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, they shall come to an end together, saith Jehovah.

18) For I know their works and their thoughts: the time cometh, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and shall see my glory.

19) And I will set a sign among them, and I will send such as escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations.

20) And they shall bring all your brethren out of all the nations for an oblation unto Yahveh, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith Yahveh, as the children of Israel bring their oblation in a clean vessel into the house of Yahveh.

21) And of them also will I take for priests and for Levites, saith Yahveh.

22) For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith Yahveh, so shall your seed and your name remain.

23) And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith Yahveh.”

So “the tribes of the earth” or “the land” are the twelve tribes of Israel; some from each tribe kept by God for Himself, and incorporated into the Body of Christ along with many from all the nations. And all together they are called the New Israel, and the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Lastly, let’s see what God’s Revelation of Jesus Christ means when He reveals to John that the tribes of the earth will “mourn” over Him. And we need go no further than the words of our Lord Himself (Matthew 24:30, as he refers to the prophets. Listen:

“And the sign of the Son of Man in heaven will then be manifested; and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory….”

When this very public event happens, “all the tribes of the earth will mourn”. Those are the direct words of prophecy. And they come from Isaiah and Jeremiah and Daniel and Hosea and Amos and Zechariah. Jesus is quoting the prophets; the prophets were prophesying directly from God; and God, here in Revelation of Jesus Christ, reveals the same words to John, witnessed by Jesus Christ, witnessed by John, and sent to all of Jesus’ other servants in the whole Church! The earth is the land of Israel; the tribes are the tribes of Israel; the “mourning” is the lamenting and the beating of the breasts and the tearing of the hair and the wailing – in shock and astonishment at what is happening to Israel and to Jerusalem and to the temple!

Listen to a couple of them: Jeremiah chapter four: “….for thus hath the Lord said, ‘the whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end? For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent…….. The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen…..every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein……”

And Zechariah chapter twelve:

“…….in that day shall there be a great “mourning” in Jerusalem…..and the land shall mourn, every family apart.” Zechariah then lists the tribes of Israel – twelve of them – who will mourn over all that will come. And it is the whole event that is mourned – from the murder of Christ in Jerusalem, to the ascension of Christ to the right of God in Power, to the manifestation of that power in the destruction of the entire old covenant nation and system. And “every eye shall see Him, all those who pierced Him”!

The tribes of Israel shall “see” the obvious authority which is given to “The Son of Man”, for it shall be “manifested”. The powers of the heavens will be shaken; the universe which God made for Himself – “heaven and earth” – Israel – will be dissolved.

This is the same way that the apostle Paul uses the word “to see”. Romans chapter 15 verse 21: “But as it is written, to whom He was not spoken of, they shall see; and they that have not heard shall understand”. Israel is to “see” the power of the newly crowned King of Kings as he comes in great power and glory.

All of these passages are eternally and irrevocably connected; and one would have to “try” to miss them. Only an imaginative, system-driven hermeneutic could blind men to such a degree that they would neglect that which is so obvious.

“YES!” and “amen”. It is true, because God said it.