Howard Mooney - The Book of Revelations and the Sunday Morning Meeting - Oak Lodge - 1972

My thoughts this morning are all found in the book of Revelation and I would like to speak to you about this book in the light of the Sunday morning meeting. We have always looked upon this book of Revelation as being a mysterious book; there are so many phrases and terms and illustrations used that are foreign to us today and it would be impossible for us to know exactly what they do mean. For that reason many are a little hesitant to delve into this book more deeply.

Some time back it took on a new meaning to me when it dawned on me that it was just a record of the last Sunday morning meeting that you read of in the Bible. In 1:9, we read of John, a captive on the Isle of Patmos "for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." In the 10th verse, it tells us he was in the spirit on the Lord's day. The Lord drew near and it was a wonderful

As near as I can understand, there were only three in that meeting, to start with anyway. That is the wonderful part about the Truth, it does not depend on numbers. We are interested in numbers, we just wish everybody in the world could be enjoying it but we know we cannot determine that factor for ourselves. It is wonderful to know we are in a fellowship that will work when only two or
three are gathered together in His name. That meeting does not depend on numbers. As near as I can determine, only three people were in that meeting on that Isle of Patmos.

It was such a wonderful meeting it took twenty-two chapters to describe it. I cannot see anything in Revelation but what the Lord wants to reveal to you and me at every Sunday morning meeting. Every Sunday morning meeting should be a fresh revelation. Every day of our walk, we face circumstances that are not too pleasant sometimes. It is easy for us to get too taken up with the course of
life and that is why God planned it so that He could give us a fresh revelation of the better things.

Now the first thing God gave was a fresh revelation of His Son. The second thing was that he got a fresh revelation of himself. The third thing was a fresh revelation of what he could do for others. The fourth thing was a fresh revelation of the worthwhileness of these things.

Let us go over this just momentarily. He got a revelation of God's Son first and foremost. The reason why God gathers His people is to uphold the example of the beauty and glory of His Son. The second thing is in verse 17. When he saw the Son it says, "I fell at His feet as dead." That was the revelation he got of himself. I wonder do we know why it was? Why is it the Lord's people feel so unworthy? We have the most wonderful thing in all the world so why is it we should feel unworthy when we come into the presence of God? I believe this verse explains it. It is because we keep our eyes on Jesus.

The Pharisees missed the mark because they compared themselves with the publicans and sinners and the drunkards down the street. They felt well, "I thank Thee Father that I am not like other people are." If John, on the Isle of Patmos, had compared himself with the hardened criminals he could have had the right to say, "I thank Thee, Father, that I am not like other men." He did not have his eyes on the criminals; he had his eyes on Jesus. When he saw the glory and the perfection of the life of Jesus, even though he had been in the work for sixty years, even though he was one of the most faithful and effective of all the apostles, in spite of all that he felt, "I am undone when I find myself in the presence of the Lord."

This was also the experience, was it not, of Job, that man we have been hearing about. He said, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." That was that righteous man we read about in Job.

This was also the experience of Isaiah, wasn't it? When he saw the Lord high and lifted up, he said, "Woe is me . . ." I believe, folks, that is the reason why we often feel unworthy.

No one feels more unworthy of this than me. As I sit in this convention those words of Jacob keep running through my mind, "I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies." I don't feel worthy to be here myself, not for a single minute, when I think of all the kindness, fellowship, and tenderness that you folks have extended to me. I know the reason why we feel so unworthy; it is because we are in the greatest thing in all the world. We are measuring ourselves by the greatest example in all the world. That is why we feel so unworthy in comparison.

That day, the next thing God revealed to John was what he could say to his brethren and then He revealed to him the worthwhileness of this thing. He saw the time when Babylon would fall and Rome would be destroyed and all the kingdoms of this world would be brought to a humble subjection to the reign of Christ. He saw a new heaven and a new earth, the future glory God plans for His people; he saw the worthwhileness of this thing.

As I said before, I cannot find anything in this book but what God is anxious to reveal to you and me every time we come together. There are a lot of symbols and terminology which we don't expect to understand but it does not change the overall picture or the general concept of it in any way.

There is a central theme in the book of Revelation. Thirty-one times we read of the throne. We read of God on the throne, the Lamb in the midst of the throne, the river proceeding out of the throne, a rainbow round about the throne, people rejoicing before the throne. Thirty-one times we read about the throne and the key verse to the whole book is in chapter 19:6, ". . . for the Lord God
omnipotent reigneth."

Now that is another wonderful thing about the Sunday morning meeting. It is the place where the needs of God's people are personally met. The reason why God gave John, on this occasion, that wonderful vision of the throne and of God on the throne was because that was what John needed that morning.

You can imagine the feelings that must have been his; the questions that must have been in that man's heart. Under the reign of Emperor Domitian, the Roman Emperor, the Lord's people had been subjected to atrocities and hard experiences, many of them being put to death on top of that. In order to show his contempt further for this cause of Christ, he had John arrested; John, the
elder brother to whom they were looking in their moment of fiery trials. He had John arrested and banished to the Isle of Patmos where, I understand, they sent only the most contemptible criminals, to indicate to those people how much contempt he had for John and for what he stood for.

You can understand the questions that might have been going on in the mind of John. "What is wrong?" "Is this thing going to pieces?" "Could it be God is allowing evil to triumph over right?" "Could it be I have given sixty years of my life to something that is going up in smoke before my eyes?" You can understand the questions in his heart that morning.

That is why God drew near to him and gave him a fresh vision of the throne and the Lord God reigning, to assure John that this is not going to pieces. It was not evil triumphing over right. He had not given sixty years for something that was going up in smoke. It was merely, "all things working together for good." God said to John, "You will prophesy before many nations and tongues and kings because of this experience you are going through. This is merely all things that work together for good."

If you find yourself, from time to time, going through dark experiences, wondering what is wrong, why God allowed these things to happen to you, you will find the answer in that thought, that this is merely all things working together for good, and in the process of time you will find this thing which seems to be a calamity at the moment, will be one of the blessings of God when the final chapter is told.

Did you ever notice the close resemblance between Daniel and Revelation? Daniel was also a captive like John, not for failure on his own part but because of circumstances beyond his control. God drew near to Daniel and gave him a vision of this same throne. Daniel 2:20-21, ". . .He changeth the times and the seasons." In other words, the things that that man saw and the thing he rejoiced over as a captive in Babylon was the fact that God Omnipotent is reigning. He could change the times and seasons. He could set up kings and He could remove kings.

He does not change His plan to suit the times. If any changes are necessary He changes the times and the seasons. Over and over again He would change the times and seasons to suit His plans. He never once changed His plans to suit the times and the seasons.

An elderly couple was telling us about the pastor of their local church. They called him a peeve preacher. This man was a negative speaker. The thing about the truth that they appreciated was that we had a positive message. Their pastor had a special grudge against lodges and the ungodliness of the lodges. As the years came and went, he came to modify his message. One Sunday, he asked all the members of the lodge to come to the front of the church. So they went down the next morning to see him and they asked him why this change saying, "Ten years ago you said it was an unpardonable sin for a person to belong to a lodge and now you honour them for it." "Well," he said, "you know we are living in a changing world and if our church is to be a success we will have to keep up with the times."

They asked us, "Does your church have to change like that with the times?" We could tell them from the bottom of a grateful heart that our God, if necessary, can change the times and the seasons. He could remove men and bring about certain conditions in the world but never once has he had to change His plans because He is the Lord God Omnipotent.

Now, going back to the book of Revelation, the throne is the central theme but the Lamb is the central character of Revelation and over twenty-six times in this book of Revelation you read of the Lamb of God and of the wonderful provision God has made for us through the Lamb of God. That is wonderful is it not? Every provision that is necessary for blessing in the lives of God's people is portrayed in this book of Revelation, coming to us through the medium of the Lamb of God.

I understand a little better when I read this book, what Paul meant when writing to Timothy, I,2:5 "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." That is the Lamb of God. It is through Him that the richest blessing man has ever known comes into the lives of God's people. That is why the Lamb is the central figure in the book of Revelation and should be the central figure in every meeting when we come together. We should be conscious of the fact that if it were not for the Lamb of God and for the provision made for us through the Lamb of God, none of us would be here today.

Revelation 7:9, "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number . . ." He saw people of all nations and countries and tongues gathered before the throne with palms in their hands. The question would arise, "Who are these?" John said, "I don't know. I cannot answer that." The one who spoke to him said, (verse 14) "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

I am very fascinated myself in the origin of words. To me, if I can understand the origin of a word and how it was used originally, I understand better its application. This word `tribulation,' if you look in the dictionary you will find this word `tribulation' is taken from the old Latin word `tribulum' which means `flails.' A flail was an instrument used for threshing corn by hand; the old, primitive method of separating the corn from the chaff. If you find difficulty in understanding this word `tribulation', you just use its synonym, `separation.' That is what tribulation does for God's people: it separates us from things that are only chaff; the chaff of the world, and it prepares us for the time God can gather us into His garner.

Everyone in that throng came through great tribulation. Every one of us who expect to find ourselves some day in that throng would have gotten there as a result of having gone through some tribulation, some separation. Sometimes this is like a painful flail; the experience the Lord brings about to bring us to that place. The experience God leads us through is to separate us from the chaff. That is mentioned first, and then they washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.

The religious world today would offer you the blood of the lamb without the separation. I would like to say, especially to the young people here, I remember my folks. As a young person I used to wonder why there was so much separation. I knew God taught it but I used to wonder why it was necessary for this separation to be brought into the picture. But separation just brings us to the place where the blood of Jesus can take over.

That is the reason why, when Jesus introduced the bread and wine for communion, He gave the bread first and then gave the cup afterwards. That was not a coincidence. That was the true order. This bread represents, "My broken body for you," and when I take that bread and put it to my mouth I am expressing by that act how much I appreciate that One whose body was broken for me, whose will was broken for me, whose will was broken in every respect in submitting to the will of the Father that I might have an example to follow: not only that but when I take the bread and put it to my mouth I am indicating by that, that I am willing to partake of the same brokenness. I am willing that my will be broken and brought into subjection to the will of the Father.

When the disciples had partaken of the bread that evening, (on that occasion it was evening) the Lord handed them the cup. Then they were worthy to partake of the cup. That might help you to understand why we partake of the bread first. It signifies my willingness to broken in the same manner as the Lamb of God was broken in submission to His Father's will. If we will have the brokenness and the separation comes about as a result of it, then we are worthy to partake of the cup with fresh assurance that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.

Going back to the original thought, this is just a reminder, folks, you and I could never enjoy a place in the congregation like this; we could never enjoy a place in the eternal congregation on the other side were it not for the provision God has made for us through the medium of the Lamb.

The third verse speaks of one of the blessings that come to us; God on the throne, ministering to us through the medium of the Lamb, "Blessed is he that readeth . . . for the time is at hand." If you don't mind marking your Bibles, underscore the word `time.' That word is the key to understanding this verse. The Bible is a time book. The Bible reminds you and me that we have a short time at best. The scripture reminds us that time is given to us to prepare for eternity.

We have to redeem the time. There is no such thing as a convenient time to serve God. There is no convenient time to read the Bible, to pray or to enter into activities and fellowship with God. These things come about as a result of redeeming time: that is, I purchase that time at the expense of something else, something I would like to have been doing at that time. I give up something
instead of doing what I want to do.

This coming year is going to be no different from the last. There is not going to be a convenient time to read or pray or visit the hospital or to write to a worker overseas, or for any of these things. We have to redeem that time. We must give up something else, maybe something for ourselves in order to make time to do the important thing.

There are two references to time in this book. One is in chapter 10:6. We read of the angel standing upon the sea and on the land saying, "there should be time no longer." This is spoken of in a general sense but the application is also true in the personal sense, that if the Lord delays His coming, then in the process of time, sooner or later the angel will have laid his hand on everyone of us in this meeting and said to you, "Now, for you, there will be time no longer."

We were having a convention in Ohio and at one of the meetings there was a man sitting in the second row. He sang the first hymn heartily. Another hymn was called and he started to sing but before the end of that hymn his time was finished; that man was in eternity. Right there during the second hymn of the opening meeting the angel just reached down and touched his shoulder and said,
"For you time will be no longer."

I did not know the man but one of the statements you heard about him so frequently was, "Well, he was certainly ready to go." The question came to me, if God had put His hand on my shoulder in that meeting, could it have been said of me, "Surely he was ready to go?"

Maybe we could just bring that down a little more to home this morning. Supposing in this meeting, in this very meeting of this Convention, this Sunday morning meeting of this convention, God would suddenly reach down and touch you on the shoulder and say, "For you there will be time no longer." Could it be said that you were ready to go? How would you feel if the Lord reached down and touched you on the shoulder?

Can you understand what Jesus meant when He poured out His heart to them at the last supper? He said, "Be ye therefore ready." We just never know. If the Lord delays His coming, then in the process of time the angel is going to put his hand on your shoulder and say, "For you there shall be time no longer." May God help us to live for Him day by day, to live whatever time, whatever the cost may be. May God grant that when that time comes for you and me we will be ready to go.

There is another verse I would like to call to your attention. It is in Revelation 12:12 where it says that the devil is exceedingly wrath because he knows the time is short. When I read that verse this morning I said to myself, "Would to God that we were as wise as the devil." I don't think any of us in this meeting realise that, at best, we have a short time.

The devil realises that. It tells us here that he was working night and day to accomplish his purpose because he knows he has but a short time. There is such a tendency for us as human beings to think of time as an indefinite future. You think of all kinds of time ahead of you. Sometimes we don't stop to realise that at best we only have a short time. I was in a home some time ago. The family in that home had received a little pamphlet from an insurance company. This pamphlet was to make people time conscious because the more time conscious you make them the easier it is to sell insurance to them. In this pamphlet there was a graph which broke down the ages into different years and then compared them with the allotted span of life so that, if you are this old, your life is one third gone, or this old and your life is half gone and so on.

Well, when the pamphlet was handed to me, naturally I got a little curious and read down the column where my age came into the picture. If you are such and such an age, your life is two thirds gone. I thought, "That cannot be true." I took a pencil out of my pocket and began to figure it out for myself. Sure enough, if I lived the allotted span of life, my life was already two thirds gone and that was several years ago.

I wouldn't want you to do it in the meeting but after the meeting some time, you just figure that out. You might get the shock of your life. You don't have that much time left as you think you might.

I learned a little lesson when I read what it says of Satan. It speaks of him working day and night. He is exceedingly wrathful and energetic because he knows he has a short time. Going back to chapter 1:3, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." The only time, folks, you and I can be sure of is today. The only time we can actually call our own is today, time that is at hand. None of us knows what we might be found doing tomorrow. May God help us to be time conscious.

That is why the scripture is written, "Blessed is he that readeth . . ." That is what the scripture does: it teaches us how to redeem the time and how to use the time to get the blessing of God and to be right with God when the angel calls us. We will have everything to look forward to when our time on earth is no longer.

Revelations 22:14 gives another blessing that comes to us through the medium of the Lamb of God. "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Again you could mark your Bible and underline the word "right." ". . . that they may have right to the tree of life . . ."

Normally, folks, you and I have no right to this at all. There is not one of us who would not have to hang his head and say, "I am not worthy to know the truth, Lord. I am not worthy of even the least of all Thy mercies." There is nothing that you and I can do, folks, that will merit the right to partake of the tree of life or to enter in through the gates to the city, but the Lord comes to us and says, "Now, just keep my commandments. If you just keep my word, just fit into my will, I will give you that right."

I would like to ask you a question. Isn't it worth it? Do you think it is costing too much to fit into His will or to abide by His plan when He gives us the right in return, to this tree of life and to all the glorious things related to that eternal city? If I were a sabbath keeper I would tell you this would mean the ten commandments. The fourth commandment is "Remember the sabbath to keep it holy." "If you don't keep the sabbath or the rest of the commandments you have no right to the tree of life or entering into the city." That is the reason the sabbath keepers would bring up.

Did you ever notice a verse that Jesus spoke to His disciples on the last night He was with them, that made the distinction between the commandments of the Old Testament and the new commandments He was giving them? I will quote the verse to you and after I have read it I will tell you why. I have often used it and there has never been anyone able to gainsay that one verse. They try to talk it to one side. "If you keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love." (John 15:10.)

He was making it very definite to His disciples on His last night. He was saying, "I am not asking you to go forth and keep the commandments of the Old Testament, the tithing and ceremonial feasts, its drink offerings and sabbath days." He was going to the cross of Calvary and was to be nailed to the cross. Paul tells us that in the letter to the Colossians that when Jesus went to the cross of Calvary all those ordinances and ceremonials of the Old Testament were nailed to the cross.

It was now consummated and He was introducing them to His commandments. Now, the commandments concerning repentance, concerning baptism, concerning His ministry, the commandments He gave concerning love, loving one another and a perishing world. The commandments He gave concerning worship; and so many other things Jesus had commanded them (His apostles) in His teaching, He was committing to them now. "These commandments, if you keep them, I am not asking you to go back to keeping the sabbath to tithing, to the commandments of the Old Testament. I am asking you to go forth and to keep my commandments, to abide by my teaching and to submit to what I have instructed you to do."

When you read of the commandments in the Epistle of John we heard so much about yesterday, and those commandments in the book of Revelation, these are referred to as the commandments which you and I are living today, as the New Testament Christians, not the Old Testament with its tithing and ceremonials. That was all nailed to the cross and we are now abiding by His commandments.

Then Revelation 22:14 we read, "Blessed are they that do His commandments." In other words, blessed are they that are willing to submit to His teaching. I don't care whether it means us as workers or you as Christians; whatever the circumstances of our background, blessed are you if you are willing to submit to the teachings, submit to what He asks of you because if you do that you will have the right to the tree of life, the right to this life Jesus spoke about, "I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly."

This is a living reality to God's people because of the fact of being wholeheartedly submitted to Him. I thought of my parents in this respect. My father and mother were just as religious before they got saved as they were afterwards. My father was a deacon of the church and my mother was a deaconess and neither of them had smoked, drank or played cards. They had never danced and never gone in for any of the activities of those days. Not only were they living a sanctified life but also a dedicated life.

In spite of this sanctification, they were still not getting that living, wonderful something that they read of in the scripture. The only satisfaction they got was from the fact that they were doing the best that they could and they asked the minister, "Why is it that we do not get that life that the scripture speaks about, the same as the New Testament Christians?" They got this answer, "Well, times have changed and customs have changed and you cannot expect to have the same thing that the New Testament Christians had."

They thought to themselves, "If God expects the same sanctification out of us and the same dedication as from them, why didn't He give us the same life?" That was the question that was unanswered until two of His workers came into our district. They were not eloquent but my parents saw that these two men had something that they had never been able to get. These men had that life that my parents had been reading about and had always wanted.

My father and mother attended the meetings. My mother was the first one to profess. My father professed five months later. Before my mother passed away she saw two of us in the work and some of our other relations profess and her grandchildren, too.

Revelations 22:2 tells us of the tree of life and the twelve manner of fruits it bore. There is not an experience, there is not a phase of life that you pass through but there is something on the tree of life to sustain you and help you to go through those experiences. When that is over we will enter in through the gates to the city where we get the right to this, all because we are willing to submit humbly.

The new Heaven and the new earth was such a place of grandeur that it could not be told in positive language. The Lord had to resort to the negative approach, "There shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying , neither shall there be any more pain, no more tears," in order that you and I might understand what this wonderful something is, that He has prepared for His people. Remember, that right is given to you and me just as a result of submitting to His will, well would you just read Revelation 22:25 that tells us of the classes of people that will be outside of that city eternally.

You ask yourself the question, "Do I want to spend all eternity with people like that, in outer darkness, with a wall between me and the rejoicing people of God?" If you ever feel, or if the feeling ever comes to your heart, "This is costing too much," you just take the Bible please, and go in and get down on your knees beside your bed and read the 15th verse of the 22nd Chapter and just ask yourself the question, "What would it cost me in endless tears, in aching pain, in endless remorse if I had to spend all eternity with that kind of people, outside the eternal city?"

I believe just one glimpse of that verse would help you to appreciate His dealings with you. There is no price too great to pay. Don't ever get to think, "It is costing too much to fit into the commandments and teachings of Jesus." Don't think for a minute that it is costing too much. It gives you the right to the only thing in the world that is worthwhile. It gives you the right to the only thing worthwhile in life and the only thing that will be worthwhile through the countless ages of eternity.

It has just dawned on me I nearly forgot to give you that reference, when Jesus made the distinction between the Old and New Testament commandments. You will find it in John 15:10, the words He spoke to them on His last night with them.

I hope every fellowship meeting you and I have the privilege of attending, or other meetings, for whatever reason, I hope every one of them; every fellowship meeting God gives us grace to attend, that it will be a fresh revelation to us. As I said before, I say again, you will find nothing in this book of Revelation but what God is anxious to reveal to His people. I hope the coming year will be a year of endless revelation for us all, a year of endless joy, of submission to His will, a wonderful year for everybody else. For His sake. Amen.