Saturday, March 31, 2018

Day 31 of Revelation Study: Why Study It?

If this book is as complicated as scholars make it seem, then why should we even study it? To some, this is a strange question to ask but, to others, this is all too common. It is a question posed by sincere Bible-believing Christians who have read the book and have heard the bickering and, in all seriousness, are at a loss for what to do with it.

However, if this is you then I would like to encourage you to remember these key points:

1.      It is truth. No matter how difficult it may be to understand, it is God’s Word and we should enjoy getting to know Him in how He has chosen to reveal Himself.

2.    It is understandable. Though some will disagree with me, I fully believe that this book can be clearly understood. Do I believe that we can know every single detail? Of course not, but since this is God’s Word [the words of the Greatest Communicator] I wholeheartedly believe that God has clearly communicated the time and events of our Lord’s revealing.

3.      It is blessed. This is the only book in the entire Bible that offers a blessing to the one who reads it (cf. 1:3). Therefore, why would we avoid gaining an easy blessing?

Yes, this book is difficult to grasp, but isn’t God’s Word worth the time and effort spent in seeking to gain a better understanding? After all, this book clearly outlines our eternity. Don’t you want to know God’s agenda?

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Day 30 of Revelation Study: Coming Soon

2,000 Years Later

When will all of this occur? Well, this is one of the first and last hurtles we must jump over in the book of Revelation (1:1; 22:20). How can it be soon if we are living almost two thousand years later? At face value it seems like a contradiction. Even some theologians use this term to suggest that the events of Revelation have already taken place. However, as was shown throughout the book, this prophecy is still very much awaiting a future fulfillment.

From Whose Perspective?

Then, what do we do with it? Well, think about the concept of “soon” as being relative to the perspective of the one using it. For example:

A friend tells you they are coming over to your house soon to pick you up. Thus, you get yourself ready and sit patiently on the futon while staring out the window awaiting their arrival [you can tell this has often happened to me]. However, what actually happens is totally unexpected — to you at least. Two hours go by and they still have not shown up. So, what do you do? While you have sent a couple text messages already, you give them a few more minutes. Then, since it is obvious, to you at least, that they are going to be awhile, you pick up that book you have been wanting to read or turn on that show you have been trying to find time for. Either that, or you just tend to waste time on your phone scrolling through Facebook watching funny videos of how cats are different than dogs. However, just then, when your attention is finally tuned into something else, you receive the message that they are here. They pulled into the driveway a couple minutes ago, but you were not watching. Therefore, they sent you a text to let you know they are outside.
My wife and I have had the same experience with others claiming they were going to call us soon but, at least from our perspective, was not very soon. The point that I am trying to make is that what you consider to be soon may actually not be very soon at all to another person. Missionaries from the states who seek to serve among a more Eastern-minded people can usually attest to this.

Whose perspective is seen in the first verse of Revelation then? The Father’s. This is the same God to whom “…one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”[1] It may not seem very soon to us, but to Him it was like two days ago when He made this prophetic statement. Yes, I understand that Peter’s statement there is a simile, but the fact remains that God has a somewhat different perspective than we have. Isaiah tells us that God’s “…thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways….”[2] Everything about Him is higher than us. So much so that we cannot even begin to comprehend the fullness of His being.

Whether we realize it or not, we even use this word differently depending upon who we are talking to and what we are comparing it with. An example is when a pregnant mother, who is eight months along, says that she is excited to give birth soon. Well, comparing a whole month of pregnancy to my two-hour waiting illustration I gave earlier does not seem soon at all. Whereas I felt that two hours were like an eternity, this pregnant mother views her due date, which is still a month away, as speedily approaching. Why? The answer is because she is comparing the last month with the former eight.


In the same way, God is seen here as comparing, from His perspective, the coming Day of the Lord with all of eternity. If we could see what God sees in His true and eternal perspective, then we would likely do the exact same thing. What we need to remember is that, even in our own daily discussions, this term varies in definition depending upon our own vantage point and to what we are referring.

[1] 2 Peter 3:8
[2] Isaiah 55:8

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Day 29 of Revelation Study: Chapter 22

This is the last and final chapter of, not only this book but, the whole Bible. Everything within the description of the holy city reveals that this is the true place to be [opposed to that former wicked city in chapter seventeen]. Whereas the former city was full of death (17:6) and was ultimately destroyed because of its increasing wickedness (18:1-24), this city only offers life (22:1-5), and abundant life at that (cf. John 10:10).

It begins with John being shown the river of the water of life (22:1) which is a picture that we will never thirst again (cf. John 4:7-26). It speaks of this river of life coming [i.e. having its origin] from the very Throne of God [i.e. God Himself]. John then notices that on either side of the river of life is the very tree of life (22:2) which tells us that we will never go hungry again. We will never be without our “daily bread” (cf. Matt. 6:11) because our Father God will forever provide for His people. Nothing will be accursed or forbidden, but everything will be free for the appetite to those who are sealed by God (22:4).

In conclusion, John wraps up his letter to the seven churches which he acknowledged at the beginning by finishing his thoughts. He quotes Jesus a few more times and offers a blessing, an encouragement, a reason for writing, and even a warning to those who would tamper with this prophecy. In the end, he says that Jesus is coming soon (22:20). Therefore, we must watch how we live because the days are even closer now for us than they were then for them.

Continue on to read about the phrase, "Coming Soon."

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Day 28 of Revelation Study: Chapter 21

John is given a clear vision of God recreating all things. Why? The answer is because the old creation had passed away (21:1). However, there are some changes to the new world which potentially make it look relatively similar to its state before the flood. Verse one says that “…the sea was no more.” Yes, there are still bodies of water (22:1), though much smaller than they are today, but John is using imagery to show us that there is unity among the nations — they are no longer divided or separated geographically by a massive ocean in between them. Also, there is a New Jerusalem which John saw coming down out of Heaven from God and resting upon the Earth.

This latter holy city is in stark contrast with the former wicked city (18:1-24). Again, the city is beautiful and marvelous to look at [as John goes into much detail in describing], but the glory of the city is its inhabitants — for it is the dwelling place of God and His people (21:3). This is the central focus of the passage — that Immanuel [which means “God with us” (Matt. 1:23)] is finally and for all eternity to be fully experienced and reveled in. There will never again come a day when God or His people suffer the separation which sin has caused because the very presence of sin will be no more. Holiness and holiness alone will dominate every area of our lives in the new world.

Continue on to read about chapter 22.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Day 27 of Revelation Study: Kingdom Controversy

The Thousand Year Reign

To be honest and upfront, this is the only passage in Scripture which specifically gives an allotted period of time [i.e. 1000 years] for the kingdom which the prophets spoke of long ago. After the Great Tribulation period, when Christ defeats His enemies, our Lord will reign supreme on this current Earth for one thousand years. John emphasizes this number six times within the first seven verses. There are some who do not believe this is referring to a literal thousand-year reign but, if we allow the text to speak for itself, I believe it is an undeniable truth of Scripture. What we must take note of is that nothing in the entire book of Revelation even remotely suggests that the various numbers presented are not literal time allotments.

What I mean to say is that every single number, from chapter one through twenty-two, which is given in the book of Revelation is always seen as literal. Do many of them also have a figurative representation? Absolutely! Many of them consist of both a figurative and a literal representation of whatever their object is in the text. For example: the seven churches have both a literal representation [i.e. seven local churches] and a figurative representation [i.e. the universal Church]. This is known as dual representation. Both interpretations are correct. However, either interpretation without the other leads into a wrong interpretation of the overall book.

When chapter eleven speaks of the two witnesses and informs us that they will prophesy for 1,260 days, our natural inclination should always be to interpret that time allotment as literally 1,260 days. After all, why would it be anything else? Now, do not misunderstand me, if the text somehow informs us that the number is figurative then we should treat it as such. However, there is nothing in the book of Revelation which would suggest anything other than a literal reading of the lengths of time which are given. The thousand years may indeed have a figurative representation of Christ’s eternal rule and reign, but it nevertheless maintains a literal representation of a future millennial kingdom which will be here on this Earth.

Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself.

More Examples:

  • Smyrna’s ten days of intense persecution (2:10). While even I have some thoughts as to what this number could represent, there is nothing in the surrounding context that would give us any indication that this was not literal. Some argue that since we do not have this time recorded in our history books it cannot be true; but I dare say that most of human history has not been written down yet has happened. Imagine yourself in the shoes of one of the individuals in the church of Smyrna. I know that if I am told something is going to happen for ten days, I do not try and reinterpret it. I understand it as ten literal days.

  • The seven horns and seven eyes (5:6). The answer to this is obvious because Jesus tells us that these are a figurative representation for the literal Holy Spirit. Look back at chapter one to see how this is referring to the seven literal outpourings of the Holy Spirit.

  • The four horsemen (6:1-8). These are figurative representations of four literal judgments.

  • The number 666 (13:18). This is really the only one that could be argued but again, like every other number in the book of Revelation, this one also maintains both a figurative and a literal fulfillment.Though there are not 666 literal objects or persons in view here, this number is used to reveal the fact that evil and sin always fall short of God's glory (cf. Romans 3:23). There are three sets of sevens in this book [i.e. the seven pastors, churches, and spirits]. The person who receives this mark is literally choosing to place themselves under the authority of the leadership of the Anti-Christ [one singular man], the entire institution of immorality and, ultimately, the main evil spirit [i.e. Satan]. Therefore, even this three-digit number expresses both realms of interpretation. It is figurative in its representation as a number lower than seven and it is literal in its representation of real life entities. While the number seven suggests an idea of fullness or perfection, six just does not measure up. It is imperfect, incomplete, and lacking.

Continue on to read about chapter 21.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Day 26 of Revelation Study: Chapter 20

The Final Fall of Satan:

In chapter twenty, John tells us that he saw an angel coming down from Heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. It is with this chain that the angel seizes the dragon, binds this terrible beast and locks him away for one thousand years. We are made aware in 20:2 that this great dragon is none other than that ancient serpent who deceived Adam Eve so many years ago. While he was able to deceive the nations for thousands of years, he has finally met his end — that is, at least until the thousand years are up. The text informs us that at the end of the thousand years Christ will let him loose, but only for a short time. Why? In order that the kingdom population of the Earth [i.e. those who have not died yet] will have one final decision to make which will then lead them into their eternal destiny.

Now, ultimately all the true believers living during this time will obviously continue to submit to God because of God’s gracious gift of eternal security. However, when the thousand years are ended there will be many people on the Earth who are merely performing an act and giving lip service to their King [i.e. they are not genuine believers]. The choice they make will determine where their true allegiance lies. Will they submit to God and live? Or will they join in on Satan’s final rebellion and die? Only God knows.

During this unknown amount of time, Satan will raise up military power from all over the world and bring all of his human pawns to surround the encampment of the saints and the holy city. However, their escapade will not last very long at all. Before they know it, they will all be consumed by fire from Heaven and the Devil will once and for all be cast into the lake of fire where he and his followers will be tormented day and night. He will never again be released from his prison. Thus, it seems like the third time will indeed be the charm — casting Satan out of Heaven [1st fall], out of Earth [2nd fall], and finally out of both [3rd and ultimate fall].

The Great White Throne Judgment

Afterward, John saw what he refers to as the Great White Throne Judgment. This is not a place for saints. If you look carefully at this passage, then you will notice that the only people found here are “the dead” [i.e. the unbelievers (20:12-13)]. They are dead because they refused life when it was offered to them. They did not repent of their sins or trust in Christ’s finished work. They are here at this judgment because they did not want the Lord Jesus to represent their case before God. Thus, it is here that they represent themselves. This is why 20:12 says that “…the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.”

The judgment of God is all about works because the righteous requirement of the Law is perfect obedience (Rom. 8:4). However, for us as believers, our hope is in what Christ has done. Our confidence is based on the truth that His sacrifice was enough to satisfy the eternal wrath of God. Thus, God is going to judge us [believers] based upon Christ and His finished work on our behalf. Nevertheless, since the individuals in this text [i.e. unbelievers] did not receive the works of Christ, the only thing God has to judge them on are their own works. This will be a sad and scary day for multitudes of people because none of their names will be found in the book of Life.

Continue on to read about the Kingdom Controversy.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Day 25 of Revelation Study: Chapter 19

Rejoicing in Heaven Over God’s Vengeance

What happens next is resounding praise to our God. A great multitude in Heaven is heard shouting at the top of their lungs for what God has done. Finally, He has brought about both salvation for His people and judgment for the wicked (19:1-2). Notice what else God is praised for in verse two. God “…has avenged on her [i.e. Babylon] the blood of His servants.” The prayers of the saints have finally been answered (cf. 5:8; 6:10-11; 8:4). Their patience has finally paid off because today is the day of the Lord’s return in which He will make all things right.

19:3 says that “The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.” This is referring to those who inhabited the city. For what is a city without its people? A city is a group of people who have chosen to dwell in a certain place at a certain time. This does not mean that the ground upon which this city was built will burn forever. Rather, it suggests that the wicked population who comprised this great city will burn forever. The smoke of this immoral woman [i.e. those who dwelt in Babylon] will never cease to go up. This verse is paralleling the literal judgment upon the physical city with the everlasting destruction of its wicked inhabitants.

The Marriage of the Lamb

This then inaugurates the marriage of the Lamb. It is at this point when all the people of God [OT and NT saints] are together as one and are called to consummate the marriage. In Jewish culture, the betrothed man would spend the year of betrothal building a house for him and his family. At the close of the year and upon finishing the house, this man would go and, at the word of her father, take his bride. He would then take her into his house and they would be forever married. Jesus is seen here as the betrothed Husband and we are His bride. Revelation 19:4-10 pictures this coming marriage relationship and describes it as taking place at the end of the Great Tribulation period when He comes to rescue us [i.e. comes to take His bride].

Do you remember Revelation 14:14-20? It is there that we see that Christ [i.e. the betrothed Husband] is waiting for the Father’s [i.e. the bride’s Father’s] approval to move ahead in the next stage of the program. At, and only at, the Father’s word will our Lord come to receive us to Himself and bring us into our new home.

The True Conquering King

After John sees this Heavenly worship, he sees a rider on a white horse (19:11-21). This rider is contrasted with that of the first horseman who came back in Revelation 6:2. Another interesting observation is that this rider is called “Faithful and True” (cf. 3:14) which contrasts the fourth horseman back in 6:8 who was named “Death.” Whereas the first horsemen [plural] came to conquer in wickedness, this Horseman [singular] comes to conquer, rule and judge in righteousness.

The text says that He has eyes like fire and a crown on His head with many diadems (cf. 1:12-16). 19:12 says that “…He has a name written that no one knows but Himself.” How is this possible since John gives us the name in the very next verse [i.e. “the Word of God”]? John is referring back to a truth which is expressed in Philippians 2:9 which states that “God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.” John says that no one else has this name; no one else knows [i.e. intimate knowledge] this name but Himself. His name alone is exalted, and He alone is the conquering King who is worthy of praise.

With Heaven’s armies following close behind, He meets His enemies head on. He is coming to stop them in their tracks. What the Anti-Christ could rule for only a few years, He will rule and reign over for a thousand. He will conquer the nations and maintain His monarchy with a rod of iron. Why? The answer that 19:16 gives is because He alone is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” It is at this time and in this place, as chapter nineteen comes to a close, that He slays His enemies and allows the birds of the air to devour their carcasses. However, both beasts of Revelation 13 [i.e. the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet] are thrown alive into the lake of fire where they will forever remain under the eternal wrath of the Almighty God (19:19-20).

Continue on to read about chapter 20.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Day 24 of Revelation Study: Chapter 18

Understanding the Chronology

Key Phrase:

“After this….” Chapter eighteen takes place immediately after chapter seventeen in chronological order. How do we know this? We can be sure of this fact because in 17:1, the angel who came to John after pouring out a bowl of God’s wrath upon the Earth told John that he was going to show him “…the judgment of the great prostitute….” However, we do not see the judgment of this prostitute [i.e. Babylon] until chapter eighteen. Therefore, we know with one hundred percent certainty that this visual of Babylon’s destruction is still connected with the angel taking John to see this woman in the previous chapter.

The Fall of Babylon

This then, is John’s description of the fall of the great city. He first sees an angel swoop down from Heaven and condemn this immoral woman. Next, John hears a voice from Heaven which is likely the Holy Spirit’s voice. Why? I say this because the very first thing this person says in 18:4 is, “Come out of her, My people.” God is calling His people to leave this great city before it is too late so that they will not be destroyed in the plagues which will soon fall upon her [cf. 14:13 where the Holy Spirit is also seen calling out from Heaven]. This could be an audible voice which the people [or more specifically, the believers] hear or it could be through the preaching of the 144,000. Nevertheless, no matter what we believe, there are people of God [who have not yet died] in the world at this time and are confined in this mess during God’s judgment upon the Earth; and they are warned of the coming destruction.

God declares that because of her great abominations, this woman [Babylon] will be destroyed and burned up in a single day (18:8). Whereas many of God’s judgments are distributed over the whole world, this one in particular is centrally located. It is specific to this city because it is this city of sin and transgression which stands in stark contrast to the holy city of Jerusalem. The text says that the plagues will be so severe upon this city that, not only will it burn to the ground in a single hour but, the rulers and all who are outside its borders will stand far off in fear and weep because of how terrible the destruction will be (18:9-20).

Concluding the Vision

At the conclusion of this vision, John sees a mighty angel take up a great stone and thrust it into the sea (18:21). The point is this: that while the city is great, it is no match for our God! At this, the city will be no more and will never again rise to power. It will never again be found to have life; nor will she ever be able to lay another hand on a saint of God (18:21-24). Why? The reason is because God is victorious.

Continue on to read about chapter 19.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Day 23 of Revelation Study: Chapter 17

A Global Deception

One of the seven angels who just finished pouring out their bowl of God’s wrath upon the Earth came to John and took him to see the great prostitute [i.e. Babylon (17:5)]. Verse one describes this woman to be “seated on many waters.” Now, this may sound strange but, we know from 17:15 that the “waters” referenced here refer to many peoples and nations and languages. Habakkuk 2:14 prophesies that “the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” This, believe it or not, is Biblical language. This terminology has the idea of a vast covering or to be seen as all-encompassing.

The text goes on to say that she was sitting upon the scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns [i.e. the great red dragon (12:3)], which signifies that the entire world system of immorality and debauchery sits on the back of Satan’s deception. Notice what John did when he first laid eyes on her — he marveled (17:6). This woman is beautiful and that is how she has gone so far as to deceive the nations. Her beauty and seduction has been a snare and a trap to the kings of the Earth by leading them into further immorality and indulgence of sin (17:2).

Rise of the Beast

Again, a miraculous sign is performed among the beast. 17:8 [along with the context of verse seven before it] says that “…the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.” This most likely means that the beast will die at some point and then literally rise from the dead. Can you imagine the shock of the world upon seeing this? They will say of him, “This man was, and then was not; but then he came back!”

Somehow and in some way, there are ten kings who will receive total world power. This is likely due to the collapsing of national governments as a result of God’s global catastrophes as He continues to plague the Earth. However, very soon after obtaining this governing authority they will, with one accord, hand it over completely to the main beast [i.e. the Anti-Christ]. This is because in 17:17 it says that “God has put it into their hearts to carry out His purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast.” What we must remember is that even the most corrupt governing authorities are completely under the umbrella of God’s overarching sovereignty.

The "Great" City

The last verse of chapter seventeen informs us that the woman [i.e. the prostitute], that John saw, “is the great city which has dominion over the kings of the Earth.” Many scholars believe that this great city is Rome of the revived Roman empire. However, no matter what city it is, it seems like it is the place to be in the last days. Apparently, it is the world headquarters during the Great Tribulation. This will be the city where all of the world leaders unanimously decide to come under one roof by creating and forming a one-world government. It is here that they will come when the rapture handicaps nations and strikes fear into the eyes of their people. It is here that they will hash out plans on what further steps to take in bringing aid and support to the billions left who are suffering from an almost global famine and major increase in natural disasters. Finally, it is here that the plurality of global leadership will hand over sole authority and responsibility to the “little horn” which rises above the rest [i.e. the coming Anti-Christ (Dan. 7:8)].

Continue on to read about chapter 18.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Day 22 of Revelation Study: Chapters 15 - 16

The Last Set of Plagues

These two chapters contain the last set of plagues (15:1). How do we know the judgments [i.e. seals, trumpets, and bowls] are sequential in order?[1] We know because 15:1 says they “…are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.” The implication of them being the last is that there was something that was placed first. In other words, these angels would not be considered the last if the bowl judgments simply paralleled the seals and trumpets. Some might try to argue that this is merely the last parallel given in the account, but even that interpretation falls short because it is not John’s visions that are finished, but God’s wrath.

This is also the only set of plagues, out of the three that are described in this book, where all seven are poured out on mankind without any interruption in the text. The seals are broken, and the trumpets are played all the way up to number six, but before they reach number seven there is a break in the text — a parenthetical thought of something else that is going on either in Heaven or on Earth. However, as soon as the first bowl is poured out, it is like they continue at lightning speed. This may suggest that, due to their severity, these judgments take place pretty close to the end of the Tribulation period. Jesus did say in Matthew 24:22, speaking of the Great Tribulation at the end of this age, that “…if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved.”

Continue on to read about chapter 17.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

[1] See the "Chart of Judgments” for an explanation of another interpretation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Day 21 of Revelation Study: Chapter 14

The Lamb & the 144,000

This chapter begins with the Lord standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000 Israelites who were sealed by God in chapter seven. Opposed to having the mark of the beast like much of mankind left in the world (13:16-18), they were given the very name of God [both the Father and the Son] which had been written on their foreheads (14:1). Is there any significance with branding the forehead? Yes, there is. It is meant to show that He is their Head. Christ is both their authority and God—they are owned by Him. Thus, they submit their lives to Him, as is seen in them remaining spiritually pure from the sexual immorality of the world and being found blameless in all their words (14:4-5).

The Messages of the Three Angels

What John sees next is staggering. An angel flies down to Earth and begins proclaiming the gospel of Christ to every nation, tribe, language and people and declares that God’s judgment is at hand. A second angel follows close behind and announces the fall of Babylon which prophesies the coming destruction of the great city, as will be discussed further in chapters seventeen and eighteen. Parallels between Babylon and this future day are as follows:

Again, a third angel followed behind the first two and stated that those who worship the beast and receive his mark will suffer the eternal wrath of God. Therefore, John saw that the world received the proclamation of the Gospel, the prophetic announcement of the fall of Babylon, and the pronouncement of eternal judgment upon those who have chosen death.

The Submission of the Son of Man

Nevertheless, John sees the Son of Man seated on the cloud with a sickle in His hand. However, notice what He is doing — He is waiting. What is He waiting for? Instructions. He is waiting to receive the go-ahead. Just then, a fourth angel comes out of the Heavenly temple and tells Him [the Son of Man] that the hour of reaping has come. But who on Earth is this angel and why does Jesus wait for him to come? By what authority does he have to tell the God of all creation when to begin reaping the harvest in the world?

To understand this properly, we must acknowledge where the angel has come from — the temple. Which temple? The Heavenly temple (14:17). This angel, in and of himself, has zero authority over the Son of Man. Nevertheless, this angel is one of the angels who stands before the Throne of God in the temple. He is the Father’s messenger to the Son that the time to act is now. Thus, what we see here in this passage is that Jesus, fully God and fully man, is completely submissive to the Father’s will. Even in glory, the Son of Man is fully content with waiting upon the perfect timing of God.

Continue on to read about chapters 15 - 16.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Day 20 of Revelation Study: Chapter 13

The Terrible Two

The term “Anti-Christ” is never found in the book of Revelation. John uses the phrase in the shorter letters he wrote (1 John 4:3; 2 John 7), but it is here that he simply refers to him as a beast. From man’s perspective he is the Anti-Christ because he claims to be God by receiving worship (13:4), is given great power and authority over the world (13:7) and is even miraculously healed (13:12). However, from God’s perspective, this man and his counterpart [the second beast in 13:11-18] are nothing more than wild beasts on the Earth.

Whoever this blasphemous (13:6) duo turns out to be, they will deceive the world (13:14) and personally order the execution of all who refuse to worship the Anti-Christ and his image (13:15). This will not at all be a problem for this terrible pair since they will have full control over the world government in that day (13:7). Apparently, the main beast’s counterpart can perform real-life miracles (13:13-14) which ultimately results in global deception. This scary account of what is to come is concluded with the forced branding or mark which is to be placed on every single individual for them to be able to buy and sell (13:16-18).

So, who is the Anti-Christ? Nobody, not even Satan, knows the answer to that; but only the Father. The reason is because this individual, otherwise known as the man of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2), will not come on the scene until after the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way. Therefore, if not even Christ knows the day of His return (Matt. 24:36), then neither does Satan. As a result, the Devil will not have any options to choose from until after the rapture takes place and the Church is in Heaven. Thus, it is a fool’s errand to try and guess his identity.

Continue on to read about chapter 14.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Day 19 of Revelation Study: Chapter 12

The Woman & the Dragon

John saw a great sign in Heaven and he presented it as an allegory of Satan’s war with the people of God. The woman pictured here is the nation of Israel and the twelve-starred crown on her head is representative of the twelve sons of Jacob. Why are they emphasized so much in this book? The answer is because they represent the nation of Israel since they are the fathers of the tribes. People try, but it is very difficult to remove the nation of Israel from this prophetic book.

Another sign was of a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns. Upon each head was a crown. It was this dragon that swept a third of the angels down from Heaven and upon the Earth. The heads, horns, and crowns of this dragon are further described in Daniel 7 - 9. This is why the books of Daniel and Revelation are often taught together because they complement one another very well.

The text says that the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that he could devour her offspring, but he was unable to destroy her newborn son [i.e. Jesus] because He was caught up to God and to His throne (cf. Acts 1:9). What happened to the woman? Well, she fled into the wilderness. She was driven from her homeland. Sound familiar? The nation of Israel was homeless for 1878 years [i.e. from 70 – 1948 A.D.].

Thus, Satan and his angels made war in Heaven. Upon their very humiliating defeat, the dragon pursued the woman [i.e. Israel] into the wilderness. Though he was faster and stronger than the woman in every way, the Lord consistently came to her rescue. Chapter twelve reveals that no matter how hard Satan tries, he cannot destroy God’s people. Therefore, the book of Revelation shows us very vividly that the ancient Serpent who has deceived the world has lost the war in Heaven and on Earth. Thus, there is no place for him except Hell.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Day 18 of Revelation Study: Chapter 11

The Apostle John was given explicit instructions to measure the temple, altar and the people worshiping there. It is interesting that John was told to measure the worshipers. This could mean that he counted them which would make sense when he gives an approximate number of people who died because of an earthquake in 11:13. The way we know that this is the earthly temple, opposed to the Heavenly one, is due to the fact that the nations are said to be trampling through the outer court and the holy city for a certain amount of time.

While no such measurements of the earthly temple or its altar or its worshipers make it into this chapter, John did include specific allotments of time [i.e. forty-two months and 1,260 days]. Two witnesses are said to be prophesying during this allotted period of time and seem to be invincible — that is, until the beast who came out of the bottomless pit (9:1-11) destroys them and leaves their bodies lying in the street in order to make a public display of his power and authority. The identity of these witnesses is unknown and debated as usual, but I believe they are the two individuals in the Old Testament who never died — Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11-12).

For three and a half days the world will gaze upon their bodies. How is this possible? Well, this is actually one of the strong evidences for this book still bearing a future fulfillment. With the rate of globalization and the advancement of technology, many tribal groups in today’s world have now been given access to world news and social media outlets like never before. We live in a time when a person in the heart of the Amazon rainforest can pull out their cell phone and watch videos on the internet.

At the end of the three and a half days, God will raise them from the dead and call them back up to Heaven. Soon after their departure from Earth, a major earthquake strikes the city of Jerusalem where seven thousand people die. It is at this point that the seventh angel blows his trumpet which then brings forth lightning, thunder, an earthquake and hail. While the judgments of God are being poured out upon mankind, the people of God in Heaven are praising Him for His justice and righteous indignation. The King is taking back His world.

Continue on to read about chapter 12.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Day 17 of Revelation Study: Chapter 10

The Mighty Angel & the Little Scroll

The previous chapter ended with mankind still refusing to repent. As a result, chapter ten begins with John seeing a mighty angel coming down from Heaven and landing upon the earth. It is interesting to note that his right foot is on the sea while his left foot is on the land. This angel is not standing in the sea, like we would expect, but on the sea. Therefore, either he chooses a location where he can have one foot on the water and the other on a rock, or he is indeed a mighty angel — specifically in height it would seem.

Some have viewed this angel to be Jesus since he is seen as standing on the water, which was a miracle that our Lord performed in Matthew 14:22-33. I, however, am still of the mindset that this is not the Christ, but only a mighty angel. Though there are certain similarities in appearance, as is reflected back in chapter one, I do not see the evidence for such a belief to be sufficient. Also, since this is still within the Great Tribulation period, I am further persuaded that this is not the Lord because this is before His triumphal return. The second coming of Christ does not take place for another nine chapters.

Nevertheless, after describing his outward appearance, John sees a little scroll in the angel’s hand. It is possible that the angel read from this scroll, but we are not made aware of what it said. Apparently, John was told not to write down for us exactly what the angel proclaimed, but it must be noted that the “seven thunders” which were sounded by the angel were intelligible statements or forms of communication [i.e. John understood what the angel said]. The seven thunders are likely seven statements the angel made which are thunderous in sound because of his voice and dreadful meaning.

In 10:6, the angel “swore…that there would be no more delay….” This seems to imply that the angel is the one who is planning on carrying out the judgment at the seventh trumpet call. He also states that whatever is included in the seventh trumpet is a revealed mystery. It is mysterious because it has not happened yet, and our eyes have not seen it; and it is revealed in the sense that this is the fulfillment of what God announced to the prophets long ago.

After this, John was directed to go and take the little scroll from the mighty angel. Upon receiving the scroll, the angel told him to eat it so that he would experience the bitter sweet reality of what it contained. This passage ends with the angel informing John that there is still much more to write about.

Continue on to read about chapter 11.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Day 16 of Revelation Study: Chapters 8 - 9

The Trumpet Judgments

Suffering and death summarize these two chapters well. Chapter eight begins with the breaking of the seventh seal which brings about severe weather (8:5). This then leads straight into the trumpet judgments as each angel, one by one, toots his horn. These continue throughout all of chapter nine. However, the final trumpet is not blown until chapter eleven.

Many scholars in the past have proposed that the breaking of the seventh seal is distinct from the others because, opposed to having a singular judgment, it looks like it comprises the seven trumpet judgments. However, upon closer examination you will find that the seventh seal really does have its own judgment (8:5). Yes, the trumpet judgments follow soon after, but it seems clear to me that they themselves make up their own set of plagues.

I Plead the Fifth

While many of the plagues are relatively easy to understand, there are those [like the 5th Trumpet] which have boggled the minds of scholars for two thousand years. Scores of men and women have attempted to relate these demonic beings with military weapons of a technologically advanced age. Others have chosen to simply read the text as saying that literal demons will sting people with their scorpion like tails. No matter the case, this is not a judgment that any of us want to face.

Although we may come away with different interpretations to the exact form this judgment takes, the 5th Trumpet should never result in us dividing. This is a hard book to understand. I plead the fifth because I am not sure, at least at this time, what exactly to do with the passage. Do I believe it? Absolutely! Do I fully understand it? Sadly, no.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Day 15 of Revelation Study: Chapter 7

The Sealing of the Jews

This chapter is a parenthetical break between the sixth seal judgment and the seventh. The entire focus of this passage is to reveal God’s protection for His people. This is manifested in two ways:

1.                  Physical Protection – God sends a few of His angels to Earth to place a seal of security upon a large number of ethnic Israelites. This mark contrasts with the coming mark in which Satan will impose on people. God’s mark is freely given and, might I say, willingly accepted [for who wouldn’t want a divine guarantee to make it through to the end!?]. However, the mark of the beast will be forced upon people by means of threat and political manipulation (cf. Rev. 13:16-18).
2.              Eternal Protection – Even though God has not chosen to always remove the physical suffering and death from all of His children, He has guaranteed eternal life to all who believe in Him (cf. John 3:16). What we see as we read the second half of chapter seven are all of the men and women, both Jews and Gentiles, who have lost their lives as a result of these global judgments.

While John is in Heaven he looks down upon the Earth and sees four angels who are about to bring judgment. However, just before they do, John sees a fifth angel carrying the seal of God for those of the Jewish people that the Lord has chosen to rescue from His judgments. He calls out to the other angels and commands them to hold off until they finish sealing the 144,000 Israelites.

John then turns back around towards the Throne of God and sees a great multitude. This great number is comprised of the angels, the elders [along with all OT and NT saints], the four living creatures, God, and even the newest arrivals [those who were killed during the Great Tribulation]. The picture is that all of God’s people are eternally protected under the shelter of their God.

Continue on to read about chapters 8 - 9.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Day 14 of Revelation Study: Chapter 6

The Four Horsemen

It is here that Jesus breaks open six of the seven seals on the scroll with each unleashing a specific judgment upon mankind. The first four are set apart because in each of them the four living creatures (4:6; 5:8) take turns calling forth a horseman of God’s wrath. There is much debate over the significance of the colors, but I will give it my best shot:

1.      A white horse (6:1-2) – We tend to view white as the color of purity or even mistake this to be the hero of the story coming at just the right time, such as when Gandalf rode up over the hill at Helm’s Deep in the second Lord of the Rings movie. There he is seen as showing up and saving the day just when the battle was about to be lost. However, in the first century, white was considered to symbolize the conqueror (cf. 2:17; 3:5; 6:11). Thus, this seal judgment pictures the coming of the conquering Anti-Christ into power who will reign over the entire world for a few years.

2.      A red horse (6:3-4) – This seal judgment is comprised of bloodshed and death. It is said that this rider will take peace from the Earth and men will slay one another. Now, we all know that wars are constant in the world we live in today. However, what John is seeing is unprecedented. It is war like never before in all of history. Notice that it says the rider will “take peace” from the earth. To take something implies that there is something to be taken. Thus, the color red symbolizes the amount of blood which will be shed during this time.

3.    A black horse (6:5-6) – This judgment signifies death of another kind—that of plant death and food shortage. There is a great and terrible famine coming which will cause the economy to collapse and the prices to sky-rocket. Black is the absence of color which shows that there will not be a whole lot of greens (i.e. fruits and vegetables).

4.    A pale horse (6:7-8) – This is the only rider that is named, and his name is “Death.” Following close behind is Hades and these two are given authority to kill, what seems to be, a quarter of the human population. Nevertheless, all that the text says in 6:8 is that “they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.” Thus, they are given authority to pursue and kill men and women, but the text does not say that they will kill only a fourth of the human population, but a fourth of the earth. Yes, human beings will die. A lot of them will, but a fourth of the earth includes animal death and plant death and, yes, human death. Pale is the color of a corpse.

Seal Judgments 5 & 6

With the opening of the fifth seal, John sees the martyrs asking God when He will avenge them by killing those who put them to death. Notice that John sees the souls of those who were martyred. This tells us that these men and women were saved and then martyred after the rapture of the Church [within the Tribulation] because they have not received their new glorified bodies yet. Members of the Church will receive theirs at the rapture when Christ comes to rescue His people from the Great Tribulation (1 Cor. 15; 1 Thess. 13-18). The Tribulation saints will be resurrected just before the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:4-5). These martyrs were likely killed as a result of the first and second seal judgments being opened with the coming of the conquering Anti-Christ and the removal of peace. God’s response to them is one of patience. Everything happens according to His timeline.

Finally, chapter six closes with the breaking of the sixth seal [the seventh will be opened at the beginning of chapter eight]. This judgment is one of catastrophic natural disasters on a global scale. It entails a great earthquake which even more so divides the land and sea, astronomical phenomena, and the world’s most powerful people running and hiding in fear.

Continue on to read about chapter 7.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Day 13 of Revelation Study: Chart of Judgments

Organizing the Judgments

To gain a better perspective of the three sets of judgments [i.e. seals, trumpets, and bowls], I have created the following chart for your visual aid. This chart is meant to act as a guide for those who wish to see a brief synopsis of the twenty-one judgments. It also helps us distinguish them from one another and see how they not only differ from one another, but progressively grow worse with the passing of each one.

Different Interpretations

While there are many godly Christians who view these judgments somewhat differently than I am proposing, the main point of their existence is to display God’s wrath on sinful mankind. This much is clear. The main debate, however, within Christian circles is whether these judgments are sequential or parallel.

Sequential or Parallel?

I believe that John lists out three sets of seven judgments in sequential order. Basically, I think that the twenty-one judgments will happen one right after the other. Whereas there are many men and women who see these judgments as merely paralleling one another. Thus, they would argue that there are only seven judgments that John describes in three distinct ways.

However, I would like to challenge that assumption with having us observe the chart. For your convenience, I have listed the Bible references at the end of this post. You will notice in the chart that each column includes a heading at the top. The first column includes the specific number we are referring to and the next three columns consist of the following sets of judgments. Then you will find Compare & Contrast followed by the Final Verdict.

The main reason why I see these judgments as sequential and not as parallel is due to the fact that, upon comparison, many either have no similarities or are in plain contradiction with one another [as is emphatically the case in judgments four and five]. Even those that do seem to be similar do not prove that they are paralleling one another. This just shows that the same God is bringing them about. Also, if you think about it, there are only so many ways wrath can be displayed.

Historic or Future?

Another way these plagues are debated is whether or not they are historical or yet future. Did these take place in 70 A.D. during the Roman conquest of Jerusalem or are they still awaiting a future fulfillment? I believe they are still to come because I think that maintaining both a chronological and futuristic reading of this book makes the most sense.

In chapters fifteen and sixteen we will look again at their sequential nature and gain a clearer understanding of their chronological order. There are certain words that the apostle chose to use which are key to understanding them in light of the context of the whole book. However, no matter the case, these judgments are a terrible reality to any and all who are held hostage to them. Therefore, repent and be saved from God’s wrath which is coming upon the whole world.

I hope you will find this chart beneficial as we continue our study through the book of Revelation.

Biblical References

1.      The Seal Judgments (6:1-17; 8:1-5).
2.      The Trumpet Judgments (8:6 - 9:21; 11:15-19).
3.      The Bowl Judgments (16:1-21).

Monday, March 12, 2018

Day 12 of Revelation Study: Chapter 5

The Scroll and the Lamb

John sees the Father sitting on His throne holding a scroll in His right hand which has writing on both sides and is sealed with seven seals. It is interesting to note that we are never clued into what is written on the scroll. All we know is what happens when a seal is broken. However, at first there seems to be a slight complication. You see, an angel asks who is worthy to open it and no one pipes up. No one in Heaven or on Earth or in the deepest confinements of Hell can break the seals and look at the contents of the scroll which is in the Father’s hand.

So, what does John do? He weeps. Yet he is hushed when his attention is directed to the only One who is worthy and willing to break the seals. Jesus is seen here as both the Lion of Judah and the Lamb that was slain. These mental images portray Him as both the ruling King and the humble Savior.

As in the previous chapter, I think there is much evidence to suggest that the seven spirits of God are referring to the fullness of the Holy Spirit ministering within and throughout the seven churches. These churches seem to be representative for the greater universal Church throughout the remainder of the age because they are said to have been “sent out into all the earth.”  The reason why John tags the number seven onto the front of “spirits” is because there are seven churches which are being referenced. One of the Holy Spirit’s main ministries is the indwelling of the Church body [both local and universal].

The seven horns would best be interpreted as God’s power and rule (cf. 1 Sam. 2:10 where the horn is a sign of strength for God’s anointed). I would also recommend checking out the verses throughout Revelation which mention horns because they are all speaking of certain kings and kingdoms involved in a power struggle (cf. Rev. 12:3; 13:1, 11; 17:3, 7, 12, 16). The seven eyes are likely a picture of God’s all-seeing eyes. There is nothing that escapes His notice and He has chosen to manifest His presence through His Church. Yes, God sees all things anyway, but He fills His Church with His Spirit; and this text shows us that His Church is with Him (5:6) and He is in Heaven.

As soon as Jesus takes the scroll from the Father’s hand the angels of Heaven and the people of God worship Him and begin singing a brand-new song. Notice that He has not actually done anything with it, except to take it. What no one else was worthy or even able to do, Christ boldly accomplished by approaching the Father and taking what is rightfully His; and, with one accord, everyone in all of creation worships Him.

Continue on to gain a glimpse of the coming judgments.

*Click here to read the purpose of this blog series.