What does Revelation 7: 1-8 mean to us now?

26 08 2009

 

Remember, the context is also about worship and church leadership. Jesus is the ONE who is qualified and able to judge and, by his grace, to give us a reprieve. It is amazing of all the convoluted theories on this number that ignore Jewish customs, apocalyptic metaphors, and of course, the context and Old Testament that tell us the meaning. Many commentators see this passage as just pertaining to actual Jewish tribes or a group of Jewish believers who convert during the period of tribulation.

We are not told exactly who and what these 144,000 are. Possibly, it is because it is not important, as the reason and purpose of pointing to Christ and showing us opportunities to get our priorities in line with His are far greater. We can either honor His name by living lives worthy to be in Him, or we can reject His offer of salvation and reconciliation and do as we want; and we can “want” ourselves all the way from judgment to hell. The bottom line meaning is that God keeps His promises to individuals and to people groups, as He here confirms.

The point of this passage tells us that God is at work even when all seems lost¾and then it gets even worse! God is still there, even in tribulations, no matter how short or great His love and grace are carrying us through it! The purpose that John has in mind, and what God calls us to in the context of this passage, is the obvious: Beware! Judgment is coming! And now, here is some grace. Here is a quiet time so you can assess where your priorities and direction in life will be, but there is not much time.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. How would you feel if you were going through the worst calamities you have ever faced, and suddenly you got a reprieve? How do you think Christians would react if in the midst of dire tribulations there came a heavenly shout of “WAIT?” How would the rest of the world react? What about you?
  1. Why do the ungodly continue to live as they see fit, ignoring God, and enjoying the sins of the world? How will they feel when the faithful receive their seal and place in the Kingdom from our Lord?
  1. Can you trust God in how He judges? How are you impatient when things do not go your way? How can you more fully understand His grace, and trust in His love?
  1. What can you do to trust Him more and not have need to fear these events that one day will come about in their fruition?
  1. What kind of a respite do you think you need from Christ? What are you going to do about it? Do you need a quiet time so you can assess where your priorities and direction in life should and will be? How can you do this? When will you do this?

 © 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org





The Four Main Views of Revelation 7: 1-8

26 08 2009

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as happening during the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and God as minimizing the evil to the Church during the carnage. Accordingly, to early church historians, all the Christians escaped, many to “Pella,” and no one was killed. God identified His faithful, provided for them, and they escaped harm before the fall of Jerusalem. A similar occurrence happened in 586 B.C. when the Romans invaded, and the faithful Jews were protected, which was predicted by Ezekiel in chapter nine. God “marked” His people and protected them as He did at the Passover with the blood on the doorposts (Mal. 3:2; Eph. 1:13). They see the 144,000 as God’s faithful Jews, who acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and are saved, even though most of the other Jews were apostate and the reason for the conquest and judgment by way of the Romans. Others see the 144,000 as the actual faithful Jews who escaped the fall of Jerusalem.

The Futurist view: They see this passage as literal, as four literal Angels and four literal corners, even though the earth is a sphere. Some see this as four “quarters” or sections of the earth. They also derive from this passage that Angels are in control of the elements and nature. They also see this passage as not a reprieve but an extra narrative of what is going on during the opening of the sixth seal, since they believe there are no Christians present as they all have been raptured before this period. Their debates center on whether people can be saved after the rapture or not. Others in this camp see the first part of this passage as just a stylistic interlude as with chapter 10. They see the 144,000 as a select number of Jews who are faithful and receive salvation during the tribulation, and have no bearing on the Church. They see the “sealing” as God preserving those Jews who evangelize and bring Israel to repentance (Zech. 12; Matt. 24:14; Rom. 11:26-32). Dan is not mentioned as they see the antichrist coming from Dan (Gen. 49:17; Jer. 8:16).  Some who are “post—tribulationists” see God protecting His faithful during the Tribulation.

The Idealist view: They see the “winds” in the passage as symbolic for the four horsemen in the previous chapter, and site Zechariah 6:5. Others see this taking place before the opening of the seals, and still others see it as God’s grace protecting His faithful. They see the 144,000 as symbolic of the camp groupings during the Exodus (Num. 31:4-5). They also see no distinction between Jews and Christians. They see God protecting the Church during His judgments, but they will still suffer the results of the wars and catastrophes.

The Historicist view: They see this passage as a pause of His judgments as God protects His faithful before the angels continue their destructive mission. Others have said this refers to God protecting the Seven Churches from invaders; still others see this as the period of Constantine when Christianity became accepted, and peace and prosperity reigned for the Church until the Barbarians took over Rome and the Church fell to the Dark Ages. The general idea is that God cares, has a plan, is in control, is concerned for His faithful, and will protect us. They see the 144,000 as symbolic for the entire professing Church, as “God’s Israel.”  Others see this as Constantine’s conversion; others see it as God protecting the seven churches from the invaders. Some see this as a select number of Jews who are faithful and who receive election in Christ.





Exegetical look into Revelation 7: 4-8

26 08 2009

 

  • The number refers to those who are the real, authentic followers of Christ, the righteous who are covered by Christ’s righteousness and thus “saved” from God’s wrath. (Rev. 2:9; 3:9; 21:2, 14). This also may allude to Israel’s restoration as a nation, which occurred in 1948, but this is highly speculative and not supported in the context of the passage. The problem is that passages such as 2 Chron. 36:21, Jer. 24:1-7; 29:10; 32:44; Ezek. 20:34; 36:33-35; 37:15-28; Dan. 9:2; Hosea 3:4-5; Amos 9:14-15; Micah 7:8-11; and Zech. 12:6-8 are read into this passage. These Old Testament passages speak of Israel being restored after the Babylonian captivity, but not necessarily as a nation thousands of years hence.
  • Sealed means that those who are faithful, who accept Christ as Lord and Savior, and who are claimed as His will be protected. The image here is like important documents in ancient times that were folded or rolled, tied with a string, and then wax or clay placed on the seam, and impressed with a signet ring (Rev. 9:4; 14:1; 22:4). Jesus seals us for protection showing that He cares, is in charge, and has ownership over us. His ownership means He possesses us¾not Satan, not the world, and not even our fallen nature and sin. His possession of our soul and life is our great comfort and relief (Gen. 4:15; Ex. 8:28; 9:4; 11:7; 11:18; Isa. 44:5; Rev. 5:6; 9:4; 14:1)! 
  • 144,000 is a symbol, meaning that the numbers are beyond counting or unfathomable to man (Rev. 1:1; 2:20; 22:6). This denotes how Israel returned from the Babylonian captivity to inherit the land (Ezek. 48). This also alludes to us, the Church, who are the inheritors (Rom. 11:1-36; Rev.12). 
  • 12,000. Twelve, like most numbers in Revelation, is not an actual number nor is 12,000 or 144,000; rather it refers to “fullness.” Twelve is also found, in various Jewish sects and in the Dead Sea Scrolls, to mean “the people of God.” Then the “12” is magnified as to 12 multiplied by 12 to mean complete fullness or God’s bountiful provisions and blessings. This is a symbolic Jewish metaphor for being “servants of God,” just as the key phrase previous to this symbolizes. This also means that He is the Provider. The debate over the numbers centers on whether they represent the entirety of saved souls or just those who just are “restored” Jews. Nonetheless, the term “servants of our God” makes it more understandable (Ezek. 9; Matt. 10:30; Rev. 9:4; 14:1-5; 21:8; 22:15).
  • All/Every Tribe. The term, “tribes,” is used for the sake of illustration rather than actually referring that only some will be saved. Rather, it means that God, in His fullness, selects whom He selects for His purpose¾Jews and Gentiles alike. (Ezek. 9:4; Eph. 2:11-22; Rev. 9:4; 14:1).
  • Joseph is listed twice as his sons, “Manasseh and Ephraim.” Levi is omitted as the priestly tribe without land inheritance rights. Joseph has two for His faithfulness while Dan is excluded from the list, perhaps because of their rebellious nature to God and idolatry as well as an Early Church tradition foretelling that the “antichrist” was to come from that tribe. Judah may be listed first before the first-born Reuben, because Christ the Messiah came from the tribe of Judah. The sequence of the tribes has no significance as they are often listed in various ways, depending on who is listing them (Gen. 37:21; Judg. 18:30; 1 Kings 12:29; Ezek. 48:1; John 6:70).




Exegetical look into Revelation 7: 1-3

26 08 2009

 

  • Four angels standing does not mean that there are four, literal Angels holding the earth; rather, this is a metaphor for the elements and behavior of nature that God controls and directs (Psalm 148:1-12; Zech. 6:5).
  • Four corners of the earth does not indicate literal corners or that the earth is flat. Even in Jesus’ time, the Greeks believed that the earth was circular—even spherical. (Jewish teaching taught that the earth was a sphere in the book of “Jubilees.”) This meant that there are four directions that we know today as North, South, East, and West.  Or, another view is that the world is divided up in four sections.
  • Holding back the four winds is symbolic for Judgment andor things that may be negative. These are some form of destructive Angels of God, or the wrath of the Lamb-Lion (Ex. 12:11-13, 23, 29-30; 2 Sam. 23:15-18; Jer. 49:36). Also it could mean the start of a “new age.” This passage also conveys some Greek imagery such as “Helios,” who drove the chariot that carried the sun. This passage does not mean that, but a first century Jew or Roman could have comprehended this passage clearly.
  • The seal refers to God putting forth His seal of approval to be His authority and representative andor acting on His behalf. God delegates and uses His angels¾and us! Some see this as the evangelism first of the Roman Empire, then of the rest of the world.
  • Foreheads infers that judgment cannot start until the faithful are marked (protected). The forehead and hands were the only parts of the body in ancient times that were visible to others. This, too, is symbolic; not that God will “rubber stamp” people or we will have a some kind of a visible mark, tattoo, “branding” or a “cross sign” (because the Hebrew letter Taw, looks like an X or cross sign), nor is this some kind of replacement for circumcision. God sees us as important and worth protecting (Ex. 13:9-16; 28:38; Deut. 6:8; 11:18; Isa. 66:19; Ezek. 9:4-6; Gal. 6:17; Rev. 13:16-18)!
  • Servants of our God. This is a key phrase that denotes the meaning of this passage, referring to those whose faith is in God¾the entirety of those who are His, who are saved. God is not limited to number or race as God is a God of equality as demonstrated in Acts and in the letters to the Seven Churches (Rev. 1:1; 6:11).




Revelation 7: 1-8

26 08 2009

Introduction 

The 144,000   

In the eye of the storm, the Lamb gives a reprieve; He preserves, assures, and protects His faithful in the midst of the catastrophes and afflictions of life, and tribulations. Imagine the worst calamities you have ever faced, multiply them times a hundred; you are tired, worn out, and pleading to God for amnesty. Suddenly, He gives it to you, seemingly out of nowhere! The storms of tribulation and judgment subside as the winds calm and the seas become quiet and a heavenly shout of “WAIT” is bellowed out to the earth so all can hear and take comfort!

In the midst of Judgment and the chaos that transpires from it (as a result of our petty ways here on earth), Christ gives us a break, a cooling—off period. It is a time to assess who we are and what we are doing, giving us an opportunity to look to Him, and another chance to place our trust in Him that He will carry us through it. Or, we have the choice to stay in our sin, ignore His sealing and His grace, and live our lives as we see fit. Humanity continues to live in sin as a great delay in judgment takes place. The ungodly continue to live as they see fit, ignoring God and enjoying the sins of the world, while the faithful receive their seal, and place in the Kingdom from our Lord.

This passage is not about numbers or who will be saved; it is not about customs or race or some drawn-out nonsensical theory. Rather, it is about God’s love and care, that He spreads His wings over His chicks to protect them. It does not matter what we go through, as long as we remain true and faithful to Him.  After this shows us the succession of John’s visions. It does not denote this as the sequence of events, as Jewish thinking is not necessarily based on a sequential timeline; rather, it is relational. God is not limited to chronology or a particular historical period. These events can come in whatever series or cycle or timing and method that God feels like doing them. He is not limited; only our understanding is limited. This passage itself is not necessarily in sequence, as the preceding passage (if it is the end of the age) may take place before this one, or they may be simultaneous (Rev. 4:1; 6:1-17).

What does it mean to your faith that Jesus preserves, reassures, and protects His faithful? How can this encourage you in times of suffering and distress?





What does Revelation 5: 8-14 mean to us now?

6 07 2009

This is a picture of worship, as a congregation gathers to collectively praise and honor Christ and offer themselves to Him in sacrifice. John is actually calling his people, who are in dire straits, to forget their current struggles and picture themselves in a heavenly choir-worshiping Christ, surrounded by angels and breathtaking music, and receiving their reward and His love for their faithfulness. For the early church in persecution that was meeting in secret, fearing for their lives, this message came as a great comfort and reassurance that “doing” church and being a Christian community is meaningful, relevant, and important both for now and for eternity. The chorus we will be a part of in Him will be far greater than the “noise” we hear from our enemies and persecutors.

Did you notice that in the context of this passage, starting in chapter four, the praise for Christ grows and grows until is encompasses all that exists in the universe? Worship is what the Christian life is about. It is our goal, purpose, and call. It is where we start and finish and what we do in eternity. Heaven is a place of worship and our church is a mere shadow of this-a rehearsal that pales in comparison. Worship is our heart pouring out to His. True worship of Christ by our submission to Him with earnestness, sincerity, and serenity helps create our character and maturity, and prepares us for life both now and for eternity. It lines us up to Christ and away from our sin and agendas. We must allow our pride to yield to the necessity of being accountable to one another. The more mature people in the Lord must model and disciple the immature. All of us are equal in the Lord; however, we must never allow our maturity and growth to be a source of pride or use it to put others down! Remember, others have their eyes on us. If we stumble, others will, too. If we succeed, others will, too!

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What does it mean to your daily Christian life that Christ’s eternal power, authority, strength, and the completeness (the life He gave us) empowers us to live a life that is worthy? What would a worthy, spirit-filled, and empowered life be like for you?

  1. What is the sign of reverence and prostration that Christ asks of us? What must we do to worship Christ effectively and earnestly?

  1. How can the true worship of Christ by your submission to Him with earnest sincerity and serenity helps create character and maturity in you and prepare you for life now and for eternity?

  1. What does it mean to put Him first in all that we do in life? How do we maneuver our Church to be under His rule and kingship, rather than our committees and trends?

  1. How would you describe spontaneous and just worshipping Christ? What can you do to prevent your church’s worship from becoming a performance for themselves, for the members, or for a show of personalities? What can be done to do as we are called, that is, to be offerings of praise to the main and only audience-Christ our Lord?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org





The Four Main Views of Revelation 5: 8-14

6 07 2009

Preterist view sees this passage as a start to the sentence of judgment as we will see in the following chapters. The Lamb invokes an outburst of extreme worship and introduces a new song to God’s praise and worth for our redemption. His old song refers to creation. The prayers refer to Christians pleading with God for relief in their persecutions, and their deliverance is made by destroying Jerusalem (I do not see how that spells r-e-l-i-e-f, or helps us now or in the future). They see the kingdom of priests as being the priests of Israel in Exodus 19:5-6 and replaced by the Church in Hebrews 7-8. The new song is a response by the angels, counted in the millions, giving a doxology for God’s glory, for He is worthy. Then, the worship climaxes when the elders fall prostrate and say Amen.

Futurist view: sees this passage as the beginning of the end of the present age and the start of the new age and the coming of Christ. Prayer of the saints refers to “thy Kingdom be done” and the fulfillment of God’s will. The reign on earth is seen as the millennial Kingdom as the Christians will rule the earth with Christ. The worship of Christ by countless angels as in Psalm 19 and 68 indicates power/strength and is seen as His Second Coming. They see every knee as referring to angels and/or to animals, because they believe the Church will be “raptured” prior to this (even though there is no biblical support for this theory, no matter how personally appealing it is, or how hopeful I am for it!). It also ignores many other scriptures.

Idealist view: They see this passage as the fulfillment of Daniel 7:9-14, where the “Ancient of Days” is to have dominion. The incense means prayers, and the new song is the response of God to them. Also, it means the New Covenant of the God of our redemption. The reign on earth is seen as the royal priesthood of all believers. They see the worship of Christ by countless angels as mainly metaphoric because their scope of reason cannot contort enough to see that all of creation can do that, thus not taking into account the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. They do bring up a valid point that in the following passages, mankind is still cursing God and being judged. However, this vision is not limited to a time sequence or chronology. Since God lives outside of space and time, it is rather a prediction of what will eventually happen.

Historicist view: sees this passage as God being benevolent and merciful as our Redeemer and the universe rejoicing in profound adoration because of this. God’s providence depicts that Jesus is the only One who is worthy to save. The reign on earth is seen as the ascendancy of Christianity to the world in its influence and scope. Some argue that all earthy rulers will be Christians before the Second Coming, although this is a big stretch. Others say this is referring to the “a millennial” spiritual reign of Christians in our present time as we will no longer be slaves to sin.





Exegetical look into Revelation 5:12-14

6 07 2009

This passage is also a picture of our faithfulness reaching to God’s awareness. The incense He desires is the love and trust we give to Him and to one another, and our obedience as we remain in Him. Our authenticity and closeness to Christ is what touches and resounds into eternity. These are the lyrics of the angel’s songs of what Christ has done and how we are responding.

  • Voice of many angels is the representation of a heavily choir worshiping our Redeemer and Savior as God’s great plan has been fulfilled and has succeeded (Gal. 3:13).
  • Numbering thousands upon thousands means indefinitely and countless. Those are not actual numbers, because “ten thousand” was the largest single number in the Greek then, but is a rhetorical phrase for “beyond counting.” Frequently, ancient songs would exaggerate numbers in battle such as the song of David killing “tens of thousands,” but here, it is no exaggeration (1 Sam. 18:7-8; Dan. 7:10; Heb. 12:22).
  • They sang. What starts in Heaven resounds through the entire universe, and that is the worship of Christ. This is not about style or ethnicity of worship; rather it is about how we are diverse, yet one in Him by our celebration of Christ.
  • Worthy is the Lamb is a picture of all peoples saved in Him, celebrating their redemption. All peoples, tongues, and locations are unified in Christ (Gen. 22; Ex. 12:3; Isa. 53:8; John 1:29; 3:16; 2 Cor. 8:9).
  • Receive power, as in praising the Lord, everlasting to everlasting (1 Chron. 29:10-19; Rev. 7:12).
  • Every creature in heaven and on earth. This infers that eventually, in the end times, all will submit to God. This is also an image of God’s sovereignty and how all things in the universe are submitted to Him now. He allows our pride and free will to lead us into thinking we are submitted to no one, and in refusing His election and grace, we judge ourselves in our defiance to His authority and love (Isaiah 45:23; Rom. 14:9; Phil. 2:10; Col. 2:3).
  • Said, “Amen.” Nothing can thwart God’s will and purpose. Satan thinks he can, and our pride makes us think we can, but God is totally sovereign. Our control is merely an illusion and a delusion to ourselves and others that He puts up with so we can eventually learn to surrender to Him and be trusting and obedient to Him (Gen. 18:18; 22:18; Isa. 60:1-5; Rev. 7:9-17; 10:11; 12:5; 13:7; 14:6-8; 15:4; 17:15; 18:3; 19:15; 20:3; 21:24-27).





Exegetical look into Revelation 5: 8-11

6 07 2009
  • Fell down before the Lamb is a sign of reverence and prostration, as one would bow before gods and kings in ancient cultures. It is honoring someone with our sincere praise. We honor Christ with worship¾our heartfelt, deep gratitude for who He is and what He has done for us (Gen. 17:3; 2 Chron. 7:3; Mark 3:11).
  • Harp, a small bowed stringed instrument used in Jewish worship (not to be confused with the large, modern European harps from the 12th century), was considered the most beautiful musical instrument at the time, and is presented here as an image of something used to praise God with sincerity and reverence (1 Chron. 25:1-6; 2 Chron. 5:12; 29:25; Neh. 12:27; 1 Sam. 10:5; Psalm 33:2).
  • Golden bowls full of incense. Incense was burned in a flat, shallow cup for worship. Here, it refers to a common, ancient metaphor for prayers that are pleasing. This is a Jewish image of the Temple and one of our worship for eternity in His Kingdom Come. This is also a call for us to be fragrant and poured out to our Lord, for that is what pleases Him. (Deut 33:10; Psalm 141:1-3; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:1-14; Rev. 8:3-4).
  • Sang a new song means being inspired by the Spirit and/or to be spontaneous in worshipping Christ. It is an image of real music used as an offering to express our deliverance or blessing. Here, it denotes the opposite of something “canned,” or obligatory. In our planning of worship, we must allow the Spirit to direct us. It is OK to compose, plan, and rehearse our praise and music, but we should not allow our worship to be a performance or a show of personalities. Rather, we are called to be an offering of praise to the main and only audience, who is Christ our Lord (Psalm 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa. 42:10; Rev.14:3).
  • To take the scroll means to receive it. Christ takes it for action and He unseals and unfolds its contents of redemption and judgment in the coming chapters.
  • Your blood you purchased men for God. This passage contains the essential, Christian salvation message. This is an image of how Israel was redeemed out of Egypt and led into the Promised Land. It was the blood of the Passover lamb that protected them; now, Christ is the ultimate depiction and application of this¾Jesus Saves (Mark 10:45; 1 Cor. 6:20)!
  • Every tribe and language. Our allegiance is to Christ by His sacrifice, not to a political power or a people group. We can be patriots to our nation as long as Christ and His Kingdom come first in our mindsets (as the American Founding Fathers demonstrated). When we are in Christ, we are part of a greater Kingdom than one of race or nationality.
  • Made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God refers to how Priests were to be bridges from God to man in the Old Testament. Now, through Christ, there is no division or caste. We have direct, intimate access to Him. All of God’s people are holy to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him (Rev. 1:6; 2:26-27; 20:4, 6; 22:5)!




Revelation 5: 8-14

6 07 2009

Introduction

“The Lamb”

Imagine the countless people and entities praising Christ as Lord, billions upon billions singing His praise as a unified, mighty chorus! The entirety of all things in heaven and earth in the millions times billions will eventually worship the Lamb as Sovereign Lord over all. There is no pride, person, or thing that can stand in His way! Jesus takes charge; He becomes the Lion and the Lamb to do what no one else was willing or able to do, pay our debt of sin and reconcile us to God in harmony and in relationship. Where sin had separated us, His sacrifice paid the debt that could not be paid or fulfilled by anything or anyone else. So, Jesus takes the scroll from God the Father, and in front of all the elders and witnesses, angels and such could do nothing but fall face down, prostrate to worship Him for who He is and what He is doing. This is a reflection of what we must do to worship Christ for who He is and what He has done for us; we must do it purely and purposefully, and not wait until it is too late and we are left to worship Him out of compulsion. For when that happens, it will be too late for our redemption! He is calling out to us to receive His grace and to recognize His sacrifice, for He is, indeed, worthy to pay our debt. The call here is to disallow our pride to blind us of His worthiness.

This passage gives us the essential Christian message of God’s redemption, as our sinful nature is exchanged for eternal life in Him. It is about how our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll. As we acknowledge what He has done, what are we doing with His eminence and significance in our daily life? Are we bowing down, living a life worthy of what He modeled for us? His plan and promise has been accomplished; are we accomplishing in our lives what we need to in order to line up to worship Him? He accomplished God’s purpose for us when we did not deserve it. Will we lead a life of glorifying Him, which He does deserve?

Some misguided Christians have mistaken this passage as a strategy to pray to the saints and then have the saints pray to God on our behalf. This is not biblical. We go directly to God. There is no “middleman” when we are in Christ. Our prayers are to the Father, through the Son, and through the leading of the Spirit (Matt 28:18; John 1:1-3; 14:6; 16:23-27; Philip. 2:5-6; 1 Tim. 2:5).






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