Faith day to day

Regardless of your response to the COVID-19, there are some key truths it should remind us of, and lead us back to.

The Word calls us to:

  • Not be anxious – businesses may be at risk, the supermarket shelves might be low, you might be isolated from friends or family, but we have peace in Christ;
  • Pray about everything – as believers, we should constantly be praying not only into our own situation, but that of the world, our fellow believers, and those people God places in our lives;
  • Focus on the things of God – live as an example, live as the salt and light of the earth;
    do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4;6-8)
  • Help the poor – this is a large one for my family in South Africa where businesses closing will have a huge impact on the ability of many to buy basic stables (I’m not talking tinned meat and veg here, but maize meal!). Poor believers are to be cared for by those of us who have more.
    We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
  • Don’t look at the troubles ahead, but focus on the task set by God each day – what has God asked of you in this season? Do not get caught up in what might be, but put your mind to what He has already asked of you;
    “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.
    “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
    “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
    “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
    “”Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34).

A flower royally robed

  •  Remember that you are a priest. Church leaders help to raise up disciples of Christ, but we are ALL of the royal priesthood. You can lead a prayer meeting in your home, a small group,  praise evening, or a Bible study. You can call believers together to fellowship over a meal, or take communion.
    As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5).

We can trust God to work ALL situations for the good. It might be hard to see the good sometimes, but we can trust to the surety of His Word.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).

We also must remember that God’s focus is eternal. There has been a big “word of faith” movement as well as the “prosperity Gospel” in recent years, teaching believers that we should have easy lives with the blessing of perfect health and financial riches if we have enough faith. The New Testament does not support this.

There is wisdom to be found in Scripture for financial stewardship and many of the Levitical laws focus on healthcare for a people who did not have access to the medical knowledge we have today. However, the New Testament calls us to give without looking to receive, to endure persecution for the faith, and to be content with little and much. It teaches us that we can either serve God or mammon. We must learn to focus on the spiritual, and look to our eternal home.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16).

Which home are you focused on – the temporal or the eternal?

What I’ve highlighted in this post is part of the backbone of our Christian faith, not just in times like this where our normal lives are interrupted. That said, these times help us to remember our day to day call as believers.

So what is your response at the moment?

Dwell in the presence of the Lord. Do not neglect to fellowship with God or other believers.

Pray that God will shake the nations to bring more people into His people, and that He will continue to refine those of us in His church.

Feeling isolated, or bored, now you cannot go about your ordinary life, work, or social activities? I can’t recommend enough that you use this time to get into the Word of God – sign up for an online Bible course, such as the School of Biblical Studies.

And don’t forget to meet the practical and spiritual needs of those around you, however you can: pray with friends, encourage fellow believers over WhatsApp, make meals for the poor or those who become unemployed.

Revelation series, post #15

We have reached the end of our Revelation Series! I hope that you have enjoyed studying this beautiful book with me.

Epilogue; 22:6-21

The story has now concluded. We know who wins. We know who loses. Now we have the afterword.

Just in case the original readers are not yet comforted in full hope for the future, Jesus assures John that the words are trustworthy and true and He is coming soon (Rev 22:6, 7, 12 and 20). What is our momentary affliction in the face of all eternity?

In Rev 22:8 we again have John falling down to worship the angel. Remember this is John! This is the man with the greatest idea of who Jesus was in heaven, and yet this is so beyond comprehension, so beyond ‘good’ that his response is worship. He has already been rebuked for falling before the angel. This just shows the level of brilliance of the revelation and how overwhelmed he was that he couldn’t even think. It is also a timely reminder for us to not get caught up overly in angels. Would you rather have God reveal Himself to you, or an angel? The world denies God, but is obsessed with angels! They cannot save! They are only fellow workers.We all worship God!

And of course, we can echo the words of Rev 22:17,20

COME, LORD JESUS!

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Rev 22:17).

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev 22:20).

Big Picture recap

Who wins?

. . .

God, and His saints

Who loses?

. . .

Satan. He could not defeat the works and purposes of God Almighty.

Enemies of God

Death

What is your response to be? As you read Revelation, as you meditate on its message, how should you respond?

. . . ???

For me, what we’ve seen all through the book is a call to worship and evangelise. It is a life laid down; living as bond slaves of Christ.

Revelation is all about Jesus winning, and the saints with Him. It is a call for endurance. It is a call to remain faithful to God in the midst of trials and tribulation. It is a call to faithfully walk out the commands in the rest of Scripture, knowing that it’s better to be in God’s camp facing persecution, than in the world’s camp facing His judgement.

What are the two greatest commandments? . . .

Love God, love others.

And then, of course, all the other principals we see:

  • Work
  • Stewardship
  • Good parenting
  • Remain in the Word
  • Remember the poor
  • . . .

Final application 

I hope you can now see how God’s salvation plan adds up to Rev 21:3.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (Rev 21:3)

This is the end result of God’s plan. God’s plan of redemption was set into place right back in Genesis 3 when He promised that Christ would come and crush Satan under foot. And why did He go to such lengths? Because God Almighty desires to dwell with us!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16).

The suffering around us is not God’s intention. He’s intention is to dwell with us and He has made a way to do so. The knowledge of His purpose and love should, in turn, lead us into: worship and thanksgiving; sharing the Good News; Bible study to know Him more; and to live as  His bond-servants.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20).

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11).

As a final application for this book, I suggest you set aside some time to worship Jesus. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Journal
  • Sketch a scene from the book
  • Write a letter to the persecuted church (Open Doors’ website gives options for this)
  • Meditate on chapters 21 and 22
  • Communion
  • Worship
  • Seek God
  • . . .

Revelation series, post #14

Recap

Let’s start with a quick recap of the four main steps in the Inductive Method of Bible study:

  1. Pray – the Spirit is our Teacher and Guide.
  2. Observe – only looking at what the text says – do not jump to any conclusions here.
  3. Interpretation – ask about the meaning to those to whom the book was originally written. Here we ask why questions; we do not ask about ourselves or our society in this step.
  4. Application – application is the goal of Bible study, leading to transformed lives and societies, but it is the last step in the method. Jumping to application prematurely can lead to incorrect doctrine.

Bear these steps in mind as we get into the text.

Activity

Try getting into the method a little for yourself:

  1. Pray. Ask God to open greater understanding of Revelation’s message to the original readers, and the application for your life today.
  2. Observe. What is promised with the coming of the eternal state?
  3. Interpretation. Can you see any contrasts or comparisons between what is coming as given in Revelation 21-22, and what happened in Genesis 1-3?

Act VII All things New; 21:1-22:5

Setting

Where is the setting of Act VII (Rev 21:1)? . . .

The new heaven and a new earth.

In these last two chapters we get a glimpse of what is to come with Christ’s Second Advent and the calling in of our eternal state. In it we see a beautiful contrast between Genesis and Revelation. God really has made all things new! This is the conclusion of His master plan of salvation, started all the way back in Genesis 3. Man’s sin broke God’s perfect world, but He has restored it!

Genesis Revelation
1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth 21:1 New heaven and earth
1:5 The darkness He called night 21:25 No night there
1:16 God made the 2 great lights 21:23 No need of sun or moon
2:8 God planted a garden 21:2 The holy city
2:9 The tree of life 22:2 The tree of life
2:10 A river flows out of Eden 22:1 The river of the water of life
2:17 You shall die 21:4 Death will be no more
2:2-4 The man . . . woman 21:9 The bride, the wife of the Lamb
3:1 The serpent (appears) 20:10 Devil thrown into lake of fire
3:6 Serpent (appears) victorious 20:10 Devil defeated
3:6 sin enters 21:27 Nothing unclean will enter the city
3:8 The man and his wife hide from God 22:4 They will see His face
3:8 God no longer walks with man 21:3 He will dwell with them
3:13 Initial victory of serpent 22:3 Ultimate victory of the Lamb
3:16 Childbirth pangs increased 21:4 No pain
3:17 Ground cursed 22:3 Nothing accursed
3:19 Return to dust 22:5 They will reign forever
3:23 Sent from the garden of Eden 21:25 Gate will never be shut
3:24 Access to the tree of life is blocked 22:14 Access to the Tree of Life reopened

Doesn’t that make you want to weep? God’s redemption plan completed!!!

Scene 1 – No more sea and the New Jerusalem (21:1b-2)

The sea can be seen as a place of perpetual tumult, it is also the place the beast came out from. Here, the tumult is ended. (We will look at the New Jerusalem below). 

Scene 2 – No more death and God’s dwelling place with man plus the New Jerusalem (21:3-21)

Read 21:3-8. What beautiful words of hope and encouragement! This is what our souls long for and what will be ours at the second coming of our King!

Now let’s have a look at the New Jerusalem. It’s mentioned in Rev 21:2 as a Bride adorned for her husband and then expanded upon in Rev 21:9-27. Notice that there is lots and lots and lots of repetition of the number 12 as well as numbers that add up to, or multiples of, 12 (such as 4 x 3 gates and 12000 stadia, 144 cubits).

There are three main interpretations:

  1. Some say it is a literal city above earth -> with the nations going in and out.
  2. Some say it’s a symbolic city. 
  3. Others think it is symbolic of the Bride, thus the Church/believers. Remember that 12 is symbolic of God’s people, and the 12 gates have the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 foundations have names of 12 apostles of the Lamb. Also we see in the next scene that God “is the temple”, so the city could be the Bride.

Scene 3 – No temple (21:22)

There is no temple because God is the temple; there is no more need of a temple. The implication is intimacy! The temple was needed so that unclean people could draw near to a holy God; God has purified a people for Himself.  

Scene 4 – No moon or sun (21:23-24)

We will get to walk by the light of the glory of God. Now we experience moments of coming into the partial glory of God, in eternity we will get to walk by the light of His glory and the Lamb of God will be our lamp. Isn’t this just an amazing chapter! Whenever you are discouraged, you only need to read Revelation 21 and 22 and be rejuvenated by the end of the matter for believers!!

God will be our light

 Scene 5 – No night and gates never shut (21:25-26) 

The gates will never be shut because gates are for protection, but there is no more need for fear! Imagine the original readers: no more need to fear anything! Live with open gates. In this life, many believers will face persecution for their faith, yet in eternity we will live with complete safety and security.

Scene 6 – Nothing unclean (21:27)

This is further encouragement for our original readers that there is nothing unclean. It should also uplift all of our spirits when we look upon the broken state of this world. A time is coming when all will be good, holy, pure and clean!

Scene 7 – Tree of Life (22:1-5)

Read Rev 22:1-5. Don’t just read it – read it out loud! 

  • There will be constant access to the River of Life
  • There will be constant access to the Tree of Life
  • The nations will be healed
  • There will be nothing accursed
  • The throne of God and the Lamb will be in it
  • We will worship Him
  • We will see His face
  • We will bear His name
  • God will be the light
  • Saints will reign forever and ever – sharing His glory as co-heirs with Christ Jesus!

Big picture of Act VII

Let’s recap the big picture of this glorious, beautiful Act by considering how the original readers would have been encouraged.

In 21:3 we see that God dwell with them, and again in 21:22 that there will be no temple for the Lord is their temple.

In 21:6-8 we read “it is done” – there is going to be an end of their suffering; there is coming an eternity of no pain, no sorrow, no evil. God again shows that His conquering saints are in a different camp, the camp that is adopted as God’s children. What a call to endurance!!

In 22:4 we see that His servants will see His face. Not even Moses was able to see God’s face without dying! This is their heritage if they overcome. This is our inheritance if we remain faithful. We will be pure and spotless and spend an eternity looking upon the radiant, all powerful face of God Almighty that no eye can yet behold.

22:4 They are sealed in God; they have His mark on their forehead; they are sealed for salvation!

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)

And in 22:5 we see God’s servants will reign forever and ever. Now they are persecuted by their society and government. In eternity they will reign with God in righteousness!

Christ promised us tribulation in this world, but who ultimately wins?

JESUS! And His saints!

We endure now for an eternity of holiness and purity with God!

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)

This is why it is so very important that we store up the treasures of His Word in our hearts. Tribulations are coming against His saints in this world, and during them we need to hold onto the promises of Scripture.

 

Next post we will conclude our Revelation series, looking at the “Epilogue” to this epic “Drama”.

Revelation series, post #13

Recap

Let’s start with a quick recap of the four main steps in the Inductive Method of Bible study:

  1. Pray – the Spirit is our Teacher and Guide.
  2. Observe – only looking at what the text says – do not jump to any conclusions here.
  3. Interpretation – ask about the meaning to those to whom the book was originally written. Here we ask why questions; we do not ask about ourselves or our society in this step.
  4. Application – application is the goal of Bible study, leading to transformed lives and societies, but it is the last step in the method. Jumping to application prematurely can lead to incorrect doctrine.

Bear these steps in mind as we get into the text.

Activity

Try getting into the method a little for yourself:

  1. Pray. Ask God to open greater understanding of Revelation’s message to the original readers, and the application for your life today.
  2. Observe. Take time to meditate on Revelation 19:11-16.
  3. Interpretation. Consider who is the rider on the white horse, depicted in Revelation 19:11-16.

Act VI Satan judged & Saints receive salvation; 19:11-20:15

(+ 4 Millennium views)

Setting

This setting is more than worth reading in full. Take time to read through Revelation 19:11-16 again.

Who is the rider on the white horse?  . . .

JESUS! This is our King! He comes in triumph; He comes to conquer. He is an active king, not passive.This is the Conquering King that the Jews wanted when they got the Suffering Servant. What a picture of hope for believers. This is who the original readers, and all believers, lay down their lives for. We are on the side of the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the One worthy to be feared.

When I speak about worship being the response to this book, I don’t just mean worship as we do on Sundays at church; I mean the deep, spirit worship that binds us to Christ as bondservants. It leads us to put an awl through our ear and declare ourselves His slave for the rest of our lives; It means laying down our desires and taking up the cross daily and following Him; It means counting our lives, and even the lives of our family, as nothing compared to knowing Him and walking in obedience to Him. Why? Because HE IS WORTHY OF OUR LIVES, AND HE IS WORTHY OF OUR DEATHS!

The setting, once again, is heaven.

Big picture of Act VI

We again see that God is unquestionably in control: of the timing of events, of what’s permitted by His enemies, and of the end result. We see a contrast to the Marriage feast as we read of the Great Supper of God’s judgement. We see the enemies of God defeated with ease by Christ, we see the martyrs reigning with Christ, and we see those whose names are in the Book of Life safe from judgement.

This Act expands on the last Act. This shows again the cyclical nature of Revelation; it is not all chronological. It’s all the same battle, but from different perspectives:

  • Rev 16 Battle of Armageddon
  • Rev 17 Judgement of whore
  • Rev 19:20 Judgment of beast and false prophet
  • Rev 20:10 Judgment on Satan
  • Rev 20:12 Judgement of unbelievers

Although, we really shouldn’t event count it as a battle: it is a slaughter of God’s enemies!

Scene 1 – The Great Supper of God (19:17-18)

We eagerly await the Marriage Supper of God, but we shouldn’t want anyone to be part of the Great Supper! Everyone not invited to the Marriage Supper is going to be part of the Great Supper – great, small, slave and free. Jesus is the ONLY means of salvation. Again, there is only two sides – you are for Him, or you are against Him.

Scene 2 – Beast and False Prophet captured (19:19-21)

The Beast, False  Prophet and kings gather against God, and . . . Jesus just throws them into the Lake of Fire! It’s not a battle; victory is decisive with Jesus the clear winner

Scenes 3 to 5

Have you heard of the Millennium? Have you been asked what your view of the Millennium is? This is the place in Scripture that it arises from.

Scenes 3 to 5 again have a few different schools of thought around the 1000 year reign of Christ, and some different interpretations even within these schools. Just as there are 4 main views of interpreting Revelation, there are also 4 main views of the Millennium. 

A good book for those who want to compare the 4 views is: “The Meaning of the Millennium; 4 views;” edited by Robert Clouse.

Four views of the Millenium

When studying the millennium, it is good to bear this quote from Robert’s introduction in mind:

“The exposition of prophecy is an area of Christian doctrine in which the warning of Paul must always be kept in mind: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood” (1 Cor. 13:12).”

Remember that what camp you fall into, IF you fall into a camp, is not a salvation issue. All of these views have godly men and women in them who believe that salvation is through Christ alone, that we are saved by grace, that Jesus is the Son of God, that He came to earth fully God and fully man and that He will come again to the judgement of unbelievers and to bring believers into eternal life in His eternal Kingdom.

“It should be added that the church has debated and reached conclusions and has embodied these conclusions in her creeds as the great doctrines of the faith. But the subject of eschatology remains in dispute. The manner of Christs’ return and the kind of kingdom that he is setting up or will set up in this world is not agreed upon. For this reason the church in practically all of her branches has refused to make any one of the millennial interpretations an article of the creed and has preferred rather to accept as Christian brethren all those who believe in the fact of Christ’s coming. Hence, while personally we may have very definite views concerning the manner and time of his coming, it would seem that our motto should be, “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”” (The Meaning of the Millennium; 4 views;” Robert Clouse; p140-141)

And, again, you don’t need to decide which group you fall into. And you certainly don’t want to go into the book with a view in mind – because to do so would be to study deductively. We want to come to the Word of God without preconceived ideas so as to allow the Word to speak for itself.

I am going to summarise the four views briefly here, and then leave them alone. There is plenty of information on them elsewhere if you desire to look into one or more of them in detail.

Amillennialists

“Amillennium” means “no millennium”, but they actually mean no coming millennium. They interpret the 1000 years symbolically, not as a literal 1000 years. They see 10x10x10 = human completeness, and thus representing the Church Age. In this view, the Millennium is the time from Christ’s ascension to His Second Coming.

Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:30-32)

They believe that the binding of Satan is not that he has no power on earth anymore, but that it has been limited so believers no longer need to fear because they are seated with Christ (Ephesians 1) .

Their motto could be: “Christ is taking over; now, but not yet”

In summary: The Church Age will continue until Christ’s return for judgement. There is no physical earthly reign of Christ; He is already reigning in heaven with those who die in faith.

Postmillennialists

Like the Amillennialists, they interpret the 1000 years symbolically, not as a literal 1000 years. They see 10x10x10 = human completeness, and thus representing the Church Age.  They differ from Amillennialists in their belief that believers will gradually take over this world for Christ through the preaching of the Gospel. They believe that the world will gradually get better until believers will call in a Millennial era of peace and then Christ will return.

Their motto could be: “We are taking over”

 Historic Premillennialists

Historic Premillennialists believe that Christ will physically reign on the earth once more before final judgement during which time Satan will be bound. They differ as to the length of the millennial period – whether the 1000 years is literal or symbolic time frame.

They believe that this time of Christ’s reign will come after a time of great tribulation for the church (from Daniel 9); then the dead in Christ will rise to life and reign with Christ; many (but not all) unbelievers will come to Christ during this time; finally, Satan will be unbound at the end of 1000 years and then be decisively defeated along with God’s remaining enemies.

Their motto could be: “He’s taking over physically, but it’s not happening yet”.

 Dispensational Premillennialists

Dispensational Premillennialists believe that Christ will return twice more before His final coming when He calls in the eternal state. They believe that Christ will come down secretly before the 7 year tribulation and catch up believers. (Remember the 7 year tribulation before Christ’s second coming is one way of interpreting Daniel 9 and his seventieth week). Unlike the Historic Premillennialists, they believe that believes will not suffer the great tribulation.

After this secret appearance, Christ will return again with those caught up and reign for 1000 years in Jerusalem. Dispensational Premillennialists believe that in this period God will fulfill all His promises to the physical nation of Jews, and that Christ will take up David’s physical kingship in Jerusalem and reign over all the nations. They believe that there is still a distinction of Jewish and Gentile believers (despite much of the New Testament arguing against this).

Summary

The popularity of any of the above four views tends to fluctuate based on the church’s status at the time in history, and in any given region of the world

Just don’t get so caught up in a view that you do not live by the commands we receive in Scripture, or that winning people to your view becomes more important than winning people to Christ!!

Now let’s look at what we see in these scenes (remember that to choose a view before interpreting the passage is to come to the Bible deductively – what we DON’T want to do!)

Scene 3 – Satan bound (20:1-3)

Who is the Dragon, the ancient Serpent (Revelation 20:2)? . . .

We are clearly told it is the Devil, there is no room for interpretation.

What happens to him in Rev 20:3a? . . .

He is throne into the pit, which is bound and sealed.

Why is this done as given in Rev 20:3b? . . .

So he can’t deceive the nations. The original readers would take encouragement from this, but even more especially from Scenes 4 and 5.

Scene 4 –Throne (20:4a)

Scene 5 – 1000 years (20:4b-10)

Whatever your interpretation of the Millennial reign of Christ, the original readers would be encouraged to see that those martyred, and those who had not worshiped the beast’s image, COME TO LIFE AND REIGN WITH CHRIST! This would have given them encouragement, hope and strength to endure

This passage also mentions resurrections and death. What is the first death we all must suffer? . . .

Physical death. The second death we get to in Scene 7, but we see here that those in Christ will not suffer it, for they are part of the first resurrection. The first resurrection being the dead in Christ reigning (martyrs raised or salvation). The second resurrection we see on judgement day in Scene 7 is when the eternal states are determined. Again, this is a call to endurance for the original readers, and for all believers.

At the end of Scene 5 we come across another battle when Satan calls Gog and Magog to him. So who, or what, is Gog and Magog? Ezekiel 38 and 39 also mentions Gog and Magog. In Ezekiel, Gog and Magog come from the north, but those here come “from the four corners of the earth.” In Ezekiel the anti-God leader is symbolized by a man called Gog who lives in the land of Magog. This could be a literal nation but doubtable. It is the same picture over and over: spiritual battle.

Big picture:

Who loses in Rev 20:9-10? . . .

God’s enemies – the Devil and those marching on the saints. Here, as in the vision of Ezekiel, Satan is allowed to draw all the rebels together so that God might destroy them all at the same time in one decisive act of judgment. They think they are coming against God’s people, but God is gathering them for slaughter.

Who wins? . . . Jesus!

When does this happen (Rev 20:7). . . When the 1000 years are ended; this is at the very end.

Scene 6 and 7 deal with final judgement

Read Rev 20:12-15 and see the contrast. There are the books and there is the Book of Life. If you are not in the Book of Life, you are judged by your deeds, and thrown into the Lake of fire. This is the second death (which links to Rev  14:9-11 – eternal torment). If you are in the Book of Life . . . then keep reading Rev 21-22 to see what’s in store!

The original readers can be at peace! They are in the Lamb’s Book of Life. They are SAFE!They do not face God’s judgement. They are redeemed. And this is true for us, too. Those of us who are in Christ have no need to fear judgement; we are in the Lamb’s Book of Life and our redemption is assured.

Romans 8 assures us of this too:

Rom 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Rom 8:15-18 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Rom 8:23-25 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Rom 8:33-34 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Rom 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The application of this Act is sharing of the Good News (evangelism), and also forgiveness. Seeing what is coming against those who do not receive God’s judgement makes it so much easier for us to fulfill God’s call for us to forgive and love our enemies. Perhaps in loving them and showing them mercy we will open them to receiving God’s mercy. We are all sinners, but some of us have been saved by grace. Who are we not to want to share this grace with others?

 

Next post we will get into the Seventh and final “Act” of Revelation as the drama comes to a beautiful close.

Revelation series, post #12

Recap

Let’s start with a quick recap of the four main steps in the Inductive Method of Bible study:

  1. Pray – the Spirit is our Teacher and Guide.
  2. Observe – only looking at what the text says – do not jump to any conclusions here.
  3. Interpretation – ask about the meaning to those to whom the book was originally written. Here we ask why questions; we do not ask about ourselves or our society in this step.
  4. Application – application is the goal of Bible study, leading to transformed lives and societies, but it is the last step in the method. Jumping to application prematurely can lead to incorrect doctrine.

Bear these steps in mind as we get into the text.

Activity

Try getting into the method a little for yourself:

  1. Pray. Ask God to open greater understanding of Revelation’s message to the original readers, and the application for your life today.
  2. Observe. Notice the response of the two groups that respond to the fall of the Great Prostitute – unbelievers first, and then the saints.
  3. Interpretation. Consider the original readers of Revelation as you read through this act – believers facing persecution and martyrdom for their faith. Ask what it would mean to them. Consider Revelation 17:6 and 17:1 and consider the relevance of the act to the original readers in their situation.

Act V Babylon, the Harlot, judged; 17:1-19:10

Setting

What is the setting of Act V from Rev 17:1-2? . . .

Judgement of the Great Prostitute. So who is the Prostitute?

Let’s firstly consider options for a literal interpretation. To the original readers, Babylon reminded them of their persecutors and time in exile due to sexual immorality and idolatry. It represents the evil that led them into sin. Rome at this time was often labelled as Babylon by Jews, so this could be one option. Other commentators say the apostate church, just as the woman is the Church faithful. Yet others have claimed the Roman Catholic church.

There are again a couple of options for a spiritual interpretation. Some claim that non-Christian world religion is subject to the whore; thus she represents idolatry against the true God. Others would say anti-God governments – killing God’s people and leading others into lives of sin as Babylon did to Israel.

Or simply the interpretation option of: “I don’t know . . .”

More importantly is the question: What is the relevance of this Act to the original reader. Consider Revelation 17:6 and 17:14 (as in the starting activity). We see this is God’s justice for His saints. The original readers would have had hope that they only had to endure a little longer. We don’t really need to know who the beast and prostitute are – because God wins and we win with Him! There is no trepidation for believers!

Now consider the big picture of this Act. The very beast that comes out to persecute the church destroys Babylon, the enemy of the church! God puts it into their hearts to destroy one another; God is in control and there is no need to fear!

Before getting into the scenes, we also need to consider the beast with 7 heads and 10 horns. This is the same beast as Rev 13:1-10 – the beast out of the sea. Some try to put a literal interpretation onto the 7 heads and 10 horns: such as Rome and 7 of its kings; or even (by an English commentator) kings of France ! Others try to place it with world Empires of the past and speculate on future ones. Others see the 10 horns ruling at the same time for one hour and prophesy a coming one world government.

The eighth is not merely one of the seven restored, but a new power or person proceeding out of the seven, and at the same time embodying all the God-opposed features of the previous seven concentrated and consummated; for which reason there are said to be not eight, but only seven heads, for the eighth is the embodiment of all the seven.

Remember that they are all linked to the beast, who was and is not and is about to rise. The time when the beast “is not” is the time during which it has “the deadly wound”. This is a contrast to God: the Hebrew, “tetragrammaton,” or sacred four letters in Jehovah, “who is, who was, and who is to come”

Again, the identity of the beast is not that important. What is important is: Who wins? In Revelation 17:14 we see the winner . . .

The Lamb; the LORD of Lords and King of kings! Plus those with Him who are called and chosen and faithful.

Scenes 1-3

The first three scenes read a bit like an Old Testament lament.

Chapter 18 breaks my heart every time I read it. It is one of saddest passages of the Bible because it shows the heart of people who have turned against God. It shows the state of the people who refuse to repent. In these scenes we see the people of the world, unbelievers, mourning the Prostitute’s death. 

If this chapter doesn’t lead you to want to evangelise, then I don’t know what in Scripture will. The world is deceived. We need to bring the Gospel. We need to give our lives wholeheartedly to the preaching of the Good News! We cannot show people their need for God and His salvation if we live mourning the earthly pleasures we’ve given up to follow Him, or if we are still seeking those pleasures over Him. We must worship God alone. We cannot serve God and money. We cannot serve God and the world.

Revelation is a book of black and white. Either you are with God, or you are not. We must lay down our life for the Gospel knowing that we have inherited eternal life.

Scenes 4-6

Scenes 4-6 stand in stark contrast to the first 3 scenes. The first 3 scenes show the world mourning the Prostitute; scenes 4-6 show the praise of God by those in heaven. Worship is going on in the midst of all the destruction and chaos – by all His people, throughout all time.

Scenes 1-3 call us to evangelise; scenes 4-6 call us to worship. Seeing the brokenness of the world leads us to evangelism of love; seeing God’s victory and His awesome power leads to awestruck worship.

Scene 7

Then finally in Scene 7 (19:6-10) we get to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The Act leads up in a crescendo: a great multitude praising the Lord and declaring the marriage feast of the Lamb has come. The original readers would be reminded that they have been made pure and blameless before God and that He is just and will not forget His promises. His timing may seem slow to them, but He will come and bring them to the great marriage supper.

The Bride to the original reader represented the church and they would see this as Christ having made believers pure and holy and justified – that they have nothing to fear because their future lies with Christ. This is what the original reader are told to endure for; this is what all believers are longing for: The Kingdom of God coming in its full glory when the Lord God Almighty will reign over all and we will be before Him as His spotless, pure Bride.

John is overwhelmed by this vision and falls down in worship of the angel, but the angel says “whoa! that is for God and God alone.

For the original reader, and us today, this book must lead us to deeper worship of God Almighty. Worship God despite what is going on around us. In the midst of all the destruction and chaos on earth, all the wars, violence and sickness He is still worthy of praise. There is no need to fear the evil in this world for Christ has conquered, and we have with Him.

Feel the emotions and atmosphere of this small scene. I’ve only seen Glenn cry twice from overwhelmed emotions. The first was on our wedding day when I was walking down the aisle towards him, and the second was when our son was born. Husbands, you know the joy and sense of wonder as your bride walks towards you, glowing and in white; imagine the joy of Christ as the waiting bridegroom. And wives, you know the joy and delight of walking towards your husband. Those of you who aren’t married, you still feel the anticipation and hope of the day. All these emotions and spirit cries are packed into this passage. This is the day we eagerly await. And what a celebration and feast there will be afterwards!!

Awaiting the marriage supper of the Lamb!

 

Next post we will get into the Sixth “Act” of Revelation as the drama continues to unfold.

Revelation series, post #11

Recap

Let’s start with a quick recap of the four main steps in the Inductive Method of Bible study:

  1. Pray – the Spirit is our Teacher and Guide.
  2. Observe – only looking at what the text says – do not jump to any conclusions here.
  3. Interpretation – ask about the meaning to those to whom the book was originally written. Here we ask why questions; we do not ask about ourselves or our society in this step.
  4. Application – application is the goal of Bible study, leading to transformed lives and societies, but it is the last step in the method. Jumping to application prematurely can lead to incorrect doctrine.

Bear these steps in mind as we get into the text.

Activity

Try getting into the method a little for yourself:

  1. Pray. Ask God to open greater understanding of Revelation’s message to the original readers, and the application for your life today.
  2. Observe. The division of the 7 bowls into two groupings. Hints as to whether this is partial (for repentance), or final, judgement.
  3. Interpretation. Is this Act showing final or partial judgement?

Act IV; The 7 Bowls; 15:5-16:21

Setting

Where is the setting of Act IV as seen in Rev 15:5? . . .

Sanctuary of the Tent of Witness in heaven.

Note that Rev 15:8 is an allusion to the Day of Atonement that Israel kept once a year. The instructions for the Day of Atonement are found in Leviticus 16.

The 7 bowls: God judging man

This Act goes by quickly. The bowls are poured out in quick succession, displaying God’s complete victory.

Note that these judgements have no partial element to them; the time of God’s holding back and releasing only a ¼ and then a 1/3 is ended. This is Final Judgement!

These seven bowls once again have two groupings. The first four are distinguished from the last three, just as in the case of the seven seals and the seven trumpets. The first four are more general, affecting the earth, the sea, the sun, etc. The last three are more particular, affecting the throne of the beast, the Euphrates, and Babylon. Some of these later judgments are set forth in detail in chapter 17-20, again showing the cyclical nature of Revelation.

Note also that there is some correlation between the bowls and the trumpets.

Scenes 1-5 (Rev 16:2-11)

Scene 1 (Rev 16:2) – Notice that the sores are only on those who bear the mark of the beast.

Scene 2 (Rev 16:3) – In comparison to the trumpets, where a third of the living creatures in the sea died, here we see all the creatures dying.

Scene 3 (Rev 16:4-7) – In comparison to the trumpets, where a third of the fresh water is made bitter, here all fresh water from rivers and springs becomes blood. In this Act, the angels and the altar praise God for His just judgements against those who have harmed His saints; this is an encouragement to the original readers that their persecution is noticed.

Scene 4 (Rev 16:8-9) – Even in the midst of final judgement there is an opportunity for repentance!! How merciful is our God! And yet the people chose to curse God and not repent. This is the broken state of mankind.

Scene 5 (Rev 16:10-11) – The Kingdom of the beast is plunged into darkness, whereas at the forth trumpet one third of the sky was struck, and a third of the light darkened.  Again we see God’s heart in giving another opportunity for repentance, but again the people chose to curse God and not repent.

Scene 6 and 7 (Rev 16:12-21)

In Rev 16:13 we see what is sometimes referred to as the “satanic trinity,” as the enemies of God again seek to mimic Him: The Dragon (Satan), the Beast (beast from the sea) and the False Prophet (Rev 19:20 links the false prophet to the beast from the earth).

In scene 6 we see all the enemies of God coming together at Armagedon to do battle against God. Most people have heard the word “Armagedon” in association with the End of the World, and either watched a movie made about it, or read a book on it, or certainly heard opinions about it. Who remembers all the hype surrounding 2000? Lay all your preconceived ideas and previous exposure behind and let’s see what Revelation says . . .

The word Armageddon comes from two Hebrew words : “Har-Megiddon” (*Strong’s Bible concordance). Har means “mountain or range of hills”. Megiddon is a place in Manasseh in Galilee, but can also mean “rendezvous” (**Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible “says: “cut off” or “slaughter”)

Megiddo is a place of many battles of ancient history. It is in a strategic location that allowed control of trade between Asia and Africa. If you ruled this, you ruled trade and economy for the region.

Battle examples:

  • The Battle of Megiddo of the 15th century BC was fought between Egypt  and a large rebellious coalition of Canaanite vassal states.
  • Two great victories in Israel’s history:
    • 1) Barak’s victory over the Canaanites (Judges 4:15) and
    • 2) Gideon’s victory over the Midianites (Judges 7).
  • Two great tragedies in Israel’s history:
    • 1) the death of Saul and his sons (1 Samuel 31:8) and
    • 2) the death of King Josiah (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:22).

The original readers (who we must always come back to for sound interpretation) would be thinking “great land of conflict”.

Another great tool for sound interpretation is called “literary context” – bringing in context from elsewhere in the Bible. For example:

  • Joel 3 names “the valley of Jehoshaphat” as the scene of God’s final judgement.
  • Whereas in Rev 20:9, nations gather before Jerusalem and surround the camp of the saints.

The literal interpretation of this scene is that armies physically gather against one another at this place. The symbolic interpretation is that this is referring to, and showing aspects of, Judgement Day.

So what happens at Armageddon?

Read Rev 16:16 – Eish, scary!

But now read Rev 16:17 . . . IT IS DONE!”

Let that sink in! “IT IS DONE!”

Who wins? . . . God! God in a very decisive victory! There is no doubt about the end result. We don’t need to live in fear about who is going to come out victorious. Though all the enemies of God come against us, HE WILL WIN!

The application is easy: Live sold out lives from Christ, worshiping Him, sharing the Good News, and having peace because we know how the story ends.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26)

Next post we will get into the Fifth “Act” of Revelation as the drama continues to unfold.

Revelation series, post #10

Recap

Let’s start with a quick recap of the four main steps in the Inductive Method of Bible study:

  1. Pray – the Spirit is our Teacher and Guide.
  2. Observe – only looking at what the text says – do not jump to any conclusions here.
  3. Interpretation – ask about the meaning to those to whom the book was originally written. Here we ask why questions; we do not ask about ourselves or our society in this step.
  4. Application – application is the goal of Bible study, leading to transformed lives and societies, but it is the last step in the method. Jumping to application prematurely can lead to incorrect doctrine.

Bear these steps in mind as we get into the text.

Activity

Try getting into the method a little for yourself:

  1. Pray. Ask God to open greater understanding of Revelation’s message to the original readers, and the application for your life today.
  2. Observe. Who’s who? Make a list of the characters and their attributes (he imagery used to describe them) in this act.
  3. Interpretation. Try and see what you think some of the symbolism, especially numbers, around the characters might represent.

Division II = God’s view (11:19 to end)

We’ve seen what’s happening from the earth’s perspective; now we are going to see what is happening in the heavenlies.

Act III Cast of Characters; Revelation 11:19-15:4

Setting

Where is the setting of Act III (11:19)? God’s Temple in heaven.

Act 3 in big picture:

  • Scene 1 brings the Woman, Child and the Dragon
  • Scene 2 brings the Beast from the Sea
  • Scene 3 brings the Beast from the earth
  • Scene 4 brings the 144,000 back into spot light
  • Scene 5 brings 3 angels and the blessed martyrs
  • Scene 6 brings the son of man and 2 angels
  • The Intermission brings 7 angels with the last 7 plagues
  • Then finally the act concludes in Scene 7 with the conquers worshipping God

Let’s cheat for a second and skip ahead to the end of the act.

Read Revelation 15:1-4 and consider the question: “Who wins this Act?”

. . .

Jesus and those who conquer (His saints)!

There are different opinions on who’s who and when these events took place, will take place or are taking place, but remember that, through all of it, this scene again shows: the enemies of God defeated, God victorious, and the people of God worshipping Him as King over all.

Scene 1, the Woman and the Dragon (Ch 12)

The woman is shown to give birth to a male child that gets caught up to heaven and will rule with a rod of iron.

Who is the child?

. . .

Jesus (rod of iron – Rev 19:15)

So then, who is the woman?

Those who take a literal interpretation suggest the woman depicts either the Jewish believers, or Mary (although Mary is not as popular because of the time woman is in the wilderness and the woman’s other children are being persecuted).

Those who take a symbolic interpretation look at the 12 stars as again referring to the number of God’s people, and thus interpret the woman as symbolic of the church (all believers).

The symbolic interpretation would be the most encouraging interpretation for the original readers. They would look at it as God giving them nourishment and strength in the midst of persecution. They would see the “pains of childbirth” referring to the persecution of the church until Christ comes again to rule, but would be encouraged by the fact that childbirth is temporary and great joy comes at the end of it. Their pain and persecution is temporary, too.

So then, who is the dragon?

Remember we must first take meaning from the book, then the Scripture, and then only after conjecture.

Q: Who is the Dragon as per verse 9? . . .

= Satan.

And what of the different numbers that are linked to his imagery? He is seen to have 10 horns, with the number 10 representing worldly power. The 7 heads and diadems is linked to God’s perfect number, thus showing that he is setting himself up as God. This is not surprising since v9 says that he is the great deceiver. 

There are different options presented for the time frame that the battle in heaven is occurring. Some say this is the church age/ the age of tension that we are in now (time from Christ’s ascension to His second coming). People in this camp would say that Satan has been thrown out of heaven (consider Luke 10:17-20), partially defeated, but is still free on earth. Others would say he has already been bound in the bottomless pit as per Rev 20:2 and that we are in the millennial reign of Christ.

There are also two interpretations for Satan being thrown down. The literal interpretation would be geographical, where the symbolic interpretation would be in regards to his spiritual authority and power. Regardless of which option you side with, the original readers would see that Satan is here defeated in heaven, and in Rev 20:2 Satan is defeated on earth. This is ENCOURAGING;  God will prevail against Satan!

Consider who won in 12:7-8?  . . . Angels

Who was defeated? . . . Satan

And what is seen of believers in 12:10-12? . . . Overcame by the blood of Lamb (Jesus’ death and resurrection), their testimony (Gospel and our life), loved not their own lives (endurance). We are conquers thanks to the blood of Christ, shed for us!

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Over chapters 12 and 13 we again see two sets of 3 ½ years. Chapter 12 has the saints nourished for 1260 days, and Chapter 13 has the beast allowed to exercise authority for 42 months. In Revelation, days are representative of good and months are representative of evil.

Scene 2 and 3 Beast from the Sea, and Beast from the earth

There are so many different interpretations for who these beasts are! Just whether you think they are literal (e.g. Rome and Caesar worship; different great empires of the world; Islam; Pope and Catholicism . . .) or spiritual (e.g anti-God government and anti-God religion) depends on your interpretative view of Revelation.

The first beast seems to be an amalgamation of the 4 beasts in Daniel 7 [but these are kingdoms in Daniel]. Remember that horns represent power and the diadem represents authority, so there is some kind of connection with governments. He dies and then is resurrected, again a counterfeit Jesus. But the end of the matter in Rev 19:20 is clear . . . he is destroyed.

The second beast appears like a lamb: another counterfeit Jesus. The main options presented include:

  • ? the false prophet
  • ? some link to the Man of Lawlessness (2 Thess 2:3-4)
  • ? some link to the Antichrist (1 and 2 John)
  • ? economic persecution (from v17)

Somehow the beast ties to false religion. But the end of the matter in Rev 19:20 is clear . . . he is destroyed.

The big picture here can be gathered be a repeated word: allowed.

  • 13:5 allowed to exercise authority
  • 13:14 allowed to work
  • 13:15 allowed to give breath

Implication: GOD IS IN CONTROL! The message for the original reader is a call to endurance (13:10) and wisdom (13:18).

In this scene we are also given the mark of the beast. Remember that the saints HAVE ALREADY BEEN SEALED BY GOD and in Rev 14:1 we again see the faithful church sealed by God!

There are two interpretations of the beast’s mark: Literal interpretation is that there is a physical mark – either his name or the number of his name. The symbolic interpretation looks again to Hebrew understanding of numbers. 6 is the number of evil, so 666 = evil evil evil. The original readers would probably be thinking more along the symbolic lines.

Regardless, the number of 666 should not create fear in believers! There is a mark given to believers (sealed in Christ!) and one for unbelievers; God is again symbolising two sides. People live in fear of this mark in things like bar codes, but to fear this is to say that if we make one mistake we lose salvation because we miss a barcode! Salvation is through Christ and Christ alone. And yet people live in such fear of losing salvation from a credit card or food product. If you are in Christ, you are sealed and you DO NOT NEED TO FEAR the mark of the beast!

Scene 4 brings the 144,000 back into spot light (14:1-5)

Remember that John heard the number 144,000 but saw a great multitude and we said that, symbolically, this was representative of all believers. But if it is in reference to all believers, why does it refer to them not defiling themselves, and remaining virgins? Look at the language that is used. Adultery in the Old Testament was a reference to the people’s idolatry against God; it was about God’s people being faithful to Him alone. Here the white robes are further symbolism of the purity of their faith and their blamelessness.

Scene 5 brings 3 angels and the blessed martyrs (14:6-13)

This is a preview to chapters 17 and 18, which depict the Fall of Babylon. It is a warning of the final judgement that has come and what will happen to those who do not turn from the beast to worship God.

What is the overall message of this scene given in Rev 14:12? . . .

It is yet another call to the endurance of the saints. The book of Revelation is all about encouraging the original readers, and all believers, to remain firm in their faith and endure the evils of this world until the end – because Jesus wins, and so do we!

What is the reward of the saints? . . . blessed rest.

What is the reward of God’s enemies? . . . judgement and wrath.

Who wins? . . . God and His saints!

Who loses? . . . Babylon and those who worship the beast.

Scene 6 brings the son of man and 2 angels (14:14-20)

Make sure you don’t miss the two distinct groups being marked here. The earth is reaped first, then comes the second sickle of judgement. This is another key message throughout Revelation: There is no GREY in God’s coming judgement. You are for God, or you are against Him; You have His seal, or you have the mark of the beast; You triumph with Christ, or you suffer with the beast; You enter eternal rest, or you enter an eternity of torment with no rest. This scene is yet another encouragement for the original readers, and ourselves: they are safe from God’s judgement that IS COMING against unrighteousness.

The Intermission brings 7 angels with the last 7 plagues

Anticipation of the final plagues of God’s wrath in Ch apter 16/Act IV.

Scene 7 concludes the Act with the conquerors worshiping God

What encouragement to the original readers and for us! This Act has called saints to endurance and their reward is worship of the Lamb in heaven and blessed rest.

Are we living as conquerors? Are we living as those who have overcome in Christ? Hold on to the truth of the Gospel, live a blameless life before God, and stand firm in your faith in the midst of the world’s evil.

 

Next post we will get into the Fourth “Act” of Revelation as the drama continues to unfold.