God Promises Christ’s Return to us!

15 03 2014

Read 2 Peter 3: 1-9

Where does your thinking need to be stimulated? How does remembering what our Lord has done for you in the past help strengthen your faith for the future?

Peter restates his purpose of the Epistle, and desires to get his people thinking about Christ, not the trends of the day, not the new philosophies, false teachers, or the scoffers.

How relevant is this now? What that early church was going through, is what we are going through right now!

 Some key words from Second Peter three:

Dear friends” means “loved ones.” Peter wants us to know for certain that Christ will return! Which is the prime point of Escatolody, that Christ is coming back. So, what he is doing is to “Stimulate” as to “stir you up.” this is a literary device to grab attention, so this is important, a call to listen up. In order to help them remember who they are in Christ and the wonders of Him, not the lusts and desires of the flesh. God wants us to live lives that are worthy of being given the grace and to show excellence in our character for His glory, and our contentment in Him (1 Pet. 2:11; 4:12).

One of the goals of Christ’s Second Coming that takes us beyond a carrot on a stick to as Peter states, “simulate”, but to what? That would be, “Wholesome thinking” which means to have a pure mind, undefiled by the filth of false teachers so we can be better prepared (Matt. 24:42-44; Rom. 12:1-3).

Peter affirms his argument by identifying the Old Testament prophets with the New Testament Apostles as of equal authority. Both are specially called and used by God to spread His truth. This is so we trust in what he says, so we can get it. However, this may not apply to us today, as we should get the fact the Bible is God’s Word! What we can take to heart is that whoever is in Christ is now a representative of Christ and has responsibility and His authority to spread His knowledge (2 Cor. 5:20).

The Peter brings us the other aspect of the Second coming we do not hear much about, why He is coming. We get so captured by the vehicle delivery apparatus theories and miss the point. Like we are more exited about the hubcaps of the limo than the fact it is taking us to the Grammies. We have a call attention to an important issue. The issue is, there will be a judgment! 

Here is a key word many get wrong. Because they assume in the English and not bother to look it up in the Greek and its Junra and syntax….Last days and its equivalent, “last times”… So what does it mean? It is the “Christian era.” It does not necessarily refer that the actual, final days of our existence, as in the second coming, are around the corner. Rather, it means the period from the resurrection to His second coming. In other words, the present time. Many have mistaken this term to mean that Jesus is right around the corner. Maybe He is, but for countless generations who have said that, well, they have been wrong and have missed the point (Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:2).

The main point is that Peter wants them to focus upon Christ and the precepts and the hope He brings. And of course, this means us too! This applies that, our thinking needs to be based on Christ, not what we want or how we think things should be. This takes trust and seeing hope. God wants us to understand that He has real, true substance for us to know and do! We have the responsibility to know this trust and hope and put both into our life and practice them.

How important is the “Second Coming” to you concerning how you live your life? Consider theses applications:

How does it make you feel and/or strengthen your faith that God intervenes, cares, and He is involved, with the intention of making you for a plan and a purpose?

What about the idea that you are no mistake, so therefore, you are wanted and have a destiny?

So, what can you do to put His willingness to infuse and use you into practice?

How do we live lives that are worthy of being given the grace and excellence in our character for His glory and our contentment in Him?

 





What does Revelation 14:14-20 mean to us now?

29 05 2010

 

The forces of evil seem invincible and overwhelming, but the call is to see Christ and take our courage and comfort in Him and not in the situation. We do this by being blameless and trusting God, even when all those around us are not doing so, or things seem unchangeable. We have to see that God does indeed care for His own—and that means you and me. This passage is a hope for us, as it was used to point John’s people to their future hope and the assurance that their faith is meaningful and important; so is ours (2 Kings 6:15-17)! 

God patiently offers His love and grace, yet the wicked sow their seeds of sin. Since God is patient, these sin-seeds grow and grow and eventfully have to be harvested. Thus, this passage is about reaping what we have sown. We can reap His love, goodness, and reward, or His Judgment and chastisement—all from what we want and desire, what we take in, and what we avoid. Take in sin or grace; avoid sin or Him. Some are His while others are condemned and desire no part in His salvation and love. As the sickle is swung, which way will the people you encountered in life be tossed? Heaven? Or, to judgment and hell (John 15)? 

Cunning in sin or coming to Him? The questions we need to ask ourselves are these: Are the riches and desires of Satan and evil ours too? Do we seek what we should not have or what is bad for us and others and think it does not matter? Do we worship what we want and not Christ? Do we seek our ways as godlike and ignore His God like ways that He has for us? What about when He has called us to produce Love and Fruit which He wants to reap? The bottom line is this; there is nothing in the world, not all of its gold or all the treasures of kings and captains of industry that can ever light a candle to what we already have in Christ! If we seek what is foul and not of Him and His Fruit, we only delude and rob ourselves of the far greater treasure we already have or could have when we are Christians. Wealth, fortune, or successes are not bad of themselves; it is how we perceive them, what we do with them. Are they gods to us, or the tools and means to glorify Christ? 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. If you were making a movie of the “Last Days,” what would it look like from what you have learned so far from Revelation?
  1. How has the book of The Revelation and this passage been so much more than just about judgment? What are you reaping with your faith now, and what will you have sown from it?
  1. How is this passage a great hope for the faithful who bear Him good fruit, and a great fear to the godless who bear rotten fruit? How will this motivate you and your church to be better as “vines” in Christ?
  1. When the forces of evil seem invincible and overwhelming to you, what can you and your church do to see Christ and take your courage and comfort in Him and not in the situation? What can be done to wake up an “apostate” Church who ignores truth and that chases trends and personalities and not real, effectual, biblical truth?

 © 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org





The Four Main Views of Revelation 14:14-20

29 05 2010

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as not referring to the Second Coming, because Christ is seated on His throne, but rather the fall of Jerusalem, as the vine of Jerusalem is cut and judged because they despised God and persecuted the faithful (Matt. 23). The imagery of the harvests is seen as describing the events of the destruction of Jerusalem, the conflict of the evil powers, and the apostasy of Jerusalem with the faith of the early Christians. The sickle is about how the righteous escaped by their salvation in Christ and by heeding the warnings of John to leave the city. The Church received a blessing from God because of its faith and obedience. And, the grape means the wicked were judged and then perished for their evil deeds. The symbol, 1,600 stadia, represents  great carnage as the Romans and their horses trampled their victims in Jerusalem, just as Josephus recorded. 

The Futurist view: They see this as the horrific, ultimate judgment of the wicked while Christ gathers His saints to safety. The Son of Man is seen as Christ Himself and His Second Coming, of His judging the wicked. They see no problem with the angel giving commands to Christ, as it is a message of the Father to the Son. The sickle represents God’s love and the gathering of the faithful as they are separated from the unfaithful. Some see this happening after the rapture and these as the Christians who are saved post-rapture (a pre-tribulation view), while others hold a view that the rapture takes place (post-tribulation view) when Christ comes—after the tribulation. Some see this as the battle of Armageddon and these as literal images of that battle. In addition, there are lengthily views of this battle and what it means; very speculative, but not essential doctrine. A problem with this view is this: according to the Bible, the battle of Armageddon never takes place; it is only prepared for, “gathered” (Rev. 16:16). Thus, to get this theory that the battle took place and many of the theories in this camp, you have to take a whole bunch of passages out of their context, string them together, and ignore the actual meanings of the words. You would have to create your own word meanings, ignore Jewish culture, and completely disregard the Old Testament, Matthew 24, and the original languages in order to create this view. This is very minor stuff theologically; I am not sure how Christ would feel about that, do you? Perhaps, a look into 2 Peter should cause us to tremble if we dare seek to twist and/or read in our ideas to His Word. Always be careful not to read into the Bible what you want it to say; rather, seek what The Word actually says, even if it goes against your personal thinking! 

The Idealist view: They see this as the final judgment held at Christ’s Second Coming where the Church is raptured and the wicked are judged. Most do not see this as Christ Himself, but as Him directing the events according to His will; others in this camp say this is Jesus. All of the key words in this passage are metaphors depicting Judgment of the wicked and the protection of the faithful. 

The Historicist view: They see, in this passage, further images of what has already been stated. This is the consummation of all of humanity and life with a harvest of the wicked and the saved, and then the end of the world as we know it. The Church triumphs and its enemies are overthrown and judged. The sickle is an image of redemption and righteousness as Christ the Redeemer gathers His elect. The grapes are seen as representing the wicked and their resulting judgment. Most see 1,600 stadia as representing the universality of judgment, while others see this as hyperbole for the extent of this calamity.





Exegetical look into Revelation 14:14-20

29 05 2010

 

  • White cloud. The quintessential, metaphoric image of Heaven and the Second Coming of Christ.
  • Like a son of man. May just mean an angel who looked like a man, or was acting as an agent of Christ. It could mean Christ standing in the midst of His Church. However, this theme normally refers to Christ’s supremacy and role as Lord, Ruler, and Love for the believer (Dan. 7:9-13; 10:5-6; Ezek. 1:25-28; Mark 8:31; Col. 1:16-17). It is an apparent description of Christ’s Second Coming when He comes back and rules over the harvest of the souls of humanity (those who are bought by Him, who received His grace by faith versus those who reject Him). However, this may not be Christ Himself because of the problem of the angel giving commands to Christ. It is more likely this is an angel or representative of Christ. Some see this as a message of the Father to the Son (Joel 3:12-16; Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 13:36-43; Mark 8:31; John 5:22-27; Rev. 1:13; 4:7).
  • Crown of gold means a great victory (Rev. 2:10).
  • Another angel may not mean that there are literal angels engaged in this, although it certainly could be; rather, this can be a metaphor for God directing the elements and behavior of nature for His means (Psalm 148:1-12; Zech. 6:5).
  • Sickle is a harvesting tool used for cutting grain. This is also the symbol used as the image of the “grim reapers” of death. It was a curved wood shaft with a stone flint blade or iron in contrast to the much smaller grape knife.
  • Sharp sickle (Grain) …grapes…winepress of God’s wrath. This is also a metaphor of judgment, the grain possibly referring to the harvest of the Righteous, and grapes to the harvest of the wicked (Jer. 51:33; Luke 3:17). This is great hope for believers but great worry for the wicked. It is clear that God will pour out His wrath to all. This is an opportunity for vengeance of the saints to gloat over our victory, yet great sadness to those who chose the ways that caused their fall and judgment. Remember, God does not just send people to hell, He places them where they want to go (Gen. 19:24; Psalm 75:8; Is. 51:17-22; 63:1-6; Jer. 25:15; 49:12; Ezek. 23:31; 38:22; Hab. 2:16; Zech. 12:2; Rev. 2:21; 7:1; 11:8-13).
  • From the earth’s vine. In context, this is an image of the harvest time, and the Feast of Tabernacles and First Fruits as well as sacrifice (Lev. 23:34-43; Num. 29:12-38; Deut. 32:33,33 Is. 34:1-8; Psalm 81:1-3; Matt. 13:24-51; 24:20; 30-31, 40-42; Mark 24:36;13:28-37; John 1:14; 14:1; Rev 14:4). 
  • Harvest of the earth…Fire represents the coming judgment and the return of Christ. This was also a symbol of judgment against Babylon and all those who oppressed the Jews. In Israel, the wheat is harvested in the spring, and is represented by the image of the sickle; grapes come in the late summer or fall. The contrast is that Christ is the true vine and the wicked are ripe for judgment (Jer. 51:33; Psalm 80:8; Matt. 13:30, 40-42; 18:8; 21: 19-20; 24:20, 31-34; Mark 3:1; Luke 9:54; John 15:6; 2 Thess. 1:7; Rev. 6:12-17; 11:15-18; 16:12).
  • Grapes are ripe… and blood flowed out of the press. Origin of the term, “grapes of wrath” refers that crushed grapes look like blood and was an ancient term for judgment and the final battle of good against evil when blood will flow (Gen. 49:11; Jer. 25:30; Joel 3:13). This is also a contrasting picture of Christ’s love poured out for us, the faithful; John calls the faithful a vine in Christ (Gen. 49:9-12; John 15:1; Rev. 16:6).
  • Outside the city. This is where the winepresses were operated because of the mess they made. Possibly, this is an image of the exclusion of the wicked from God’s mercy and protection and/or the separation of good from evil.
  • High as the horses’ bridles. A “hyperbole” metaphor for battle and war, that it will be quick and swift. It was common for Jews and other ancients to exaggerate battles for epic effect; the audience, of course, knew the reality. The apocryphal book 1 Enoch 100 gives a similar account.
  • Winepress is a trough made of rock and mortar and used to make wine; it is also a symbol for divine wrath and judgment, as Isaiah’s image of how God “tramples” His enemies. In context, this also refers to “viticulture,” the cultivation of grapes; as a metaphor, it refers to “we reap what we sow,” or, we cultivate our judgments from our attitudes and actions (Is 63:3; Lam. 1:15; Zech 14:1-4; Heb 13:12).
  • God’s wrath. In context to winepress, this refers to those being drunk and not caring about the judgment or the consequences of their actions. Also, that no one can escape God’s will—either His love or His wrath.
  • 1,600 stadia is a “square number” referring to a square of 40 times 40 a distance roughly 200 miles; it is also a metaphor for “completeness,” the land of Palestine, and/or a very large amount or great carnage.




Revelation 14:14-20

29 05 2010

 

Introduction 

The Angels and the Harvest 

John now turns his attention to Christ Himself, the Son of Man, who was perhaps a representative of Christ, sitting on a white cloud and directing the harvest of humanity’s souls through time. He is in charge with His gold crown as He holds the sickle for the crop of souls. These souls are the “vine of the earth” and are ripe, ready to fall from their vine. They have reached their maturity and are ready for harvest. Thus, the entireties of the earth’s people are harvested. Then, the attention is turned to judgment and the souls who rejected Christ, whose hearts were moored to evil. They are gathered and thrown to the winepress of God’s wrath. The wicked are judged, and the blood of the people who have no right to vindication, who received their just reward, who were offered grace and love but refused it and Him, have met their fate. The vindication of the righteous is met; the strategy of evil that was pursued failed, and they have met and “execrated” their outcome. 

John is giving a portrayal of the “Last Days” and the “Second Coming” of Christ our Lord where Christ is the great Director, directing His representatives in the reaping and the harvesting of humanity’s souls. This passage represents the quintessence of how most people, including many Christians, see Revelation. Yes, it is; but, it is also so much more. It is not just about judgment; it is about how we are called to life too! This passage also relates to the final “swan song” of humanity, when life and earth and all that we were to do are done. The time is up; the great harvest and judgment are upon us all. We see the contrast between Babylon and Sodom, of evil iniquity versus God’s grace, love, and goodness. It is a great hope for the faithful who bear good fruit for Him and a great fear to the godless who bear rotten fruit (Gen. 19:24; Psalm 112:10; Joel 3:12-16; Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 13:36-43; 24:14; Luke 3:17; John 15:1-8; Gal. 5; Rev. 1:13).  

What have you and your church done about being representatives of Christ? What may have been pleasing to Him and what may have disappointed Him?





What does Revelation 1: 1-8 mean to me and you?

28 01 2009

Our call is to be blessed so the character qualities we receive from the Spirit come from the inward love we have for our Lord and we will desire to spill them upon others around us (Psalm 1).

John begins His book by reminding his readers of whom and what Christ is, His supremacy, and His role of Redeemer and Judge. He then gives us a glimpse of end-time events. We must never forget who we are in Christ. If we do, we will quickly fall to pride and apostasy, buying lies and living in our depravity. God is beyond time and space, and beyond our comprehension other that what He has clearly revealed to us. He has a plan; let’s face Him, not our fears or our doubts or other’s misgivings. Let us swim in His living waters (Jer. 2:13; 17:13; John 4:10-11; 7:38; Rev. 7:17). God may seem to be slow, taking His time, but He does this for good reason. Life is about learning and growing, about becoming faithful, infused with His Spirit, spiritually responsible and character-driven. It is not about how we feel or what we want.

Questions to Ponder:

1. One of the main themes of Revelation is the call for us to stand firm and grow further in our faith. Does this surprise you? What did you expect to find from Revelation?

2. Why do you suppose most people see Revelation as an ominous apocalypse of chaos and catastrophe? How do you see it?

3. What is your take on the word and theme of soon? Does it mean the sudden nature of the Christian era and the unexpected return of Christ, or is it a time reference? This has been the crux of the debate for theologians since the 1840′s. How would this affect how you view Revelation?

4. Most people see Revelation as only about future events. What does it mean to you that it is actually more about how we should conduct ourselves in times of distress and the strength of faith to endure and learn from those times?

5. What needs to take place to better connect your relationship with Christ more firmly? How would this help you receive hope and encouragement?





Exegetical look into Revelation 1: 4-8

28 01 2009

John is proclaiming an important fact we must all agree upon, that God is Sovereign and in control! He gave us grace that we did not deserve and a precious plan that will unfold. We have hope both now and in the future.

Grace and peace is an ancient greeting, as John sends his blessings.

· Seven churches. The principle theme is the seven churches which all were real, actual churches in Asia Minor with real, actual problems. These are not allegories; rather, they are relevant to your church now and symbolize the various ages of the Church in history and also represent how each individual church is, through all times and places, in its operation and faith (Phil. 2:15; Matt. 5:14-16; Rev. 1:1-3; 2:1-3:22; 22:7-21).

· Him who is, and who was, and who is to come. The Lord’s Supremacy echoes the words of God given to Moses in the burning bush. This is a Divine Name of Christ meaning Eternal Deity and Authority (Ex. 3:14-16).

· Seven spirits. The word, seven, means its importance is compounded. This is a name for the Holy Spirit referring to His Fullness, not a split personality. Some believe this is referring to the seven celestial beings (Rev. 8:2). However, context and word meaning attest of the Holy Spirit and His various roles as Counselor, bearer of Wisdom, Fruit… (Isa. 11:2) etc., just as this passage gives several titles for Christ. It also testifies to the profundity (depth and reality) of the Trinity (Zech. 4:2-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; Rev. 4:5; 5:14).

· Faithful witness, the firstborn… ruler means reliable. It sets Jesus as Divine and Lord over all the living and the dead. This also refers to the roles of Christ in His Church. As He is faithful to us, we are called to be faithful to Him, too (Psalm 2:7; 89:27; Prov. 14:5, 25; Isa. 8:2; Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 2:10-13; 3:14).

· Him be glory…To him. Christ is the quintessential subject and prominent theme of Revelation. This is a doxology of praise, used to wholeheartedly worship and praise Christ as exalted and worthy because of His Sovereignty and the redemption He gives us. Praise is also our frontline weapon against spiritual warfare (Rev. 4:8, 11; 5:9-14; 7:12; 11:15-17; 12:10-12; 15:3-4; 19:1-8).

· Kingdom and priests in the O.T. meant that all God’s people were holy to Him. Under law, there were specific roles in the priesthood that people were called and ordained to fill. Priests were to be bridges from God to man. Now, through Christ, we have direct, intimate access to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him. Each of us is a royal priest as a representative of Christ (doctrine of the priesthood of all believers) on earth, and as ministers, we model His character and thus have no need for a Temple. God’s Kingdom is now; those who say the Temple must be reconstructed before Christ returns do not get this vital point (Ex. 19:1-6; 20:6; Lev. 10:10-11; Isa. 66:20; Matt. 21:43; 28:19-20; Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 7; 10:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:1-10; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; 5:9-10; 20:4-6).

· He is coming is one of the main themes of this epistle, the announcement that Christ is coming back. This is comfort for the suffering Christians and chastisement for those who are evil and reject Him (Deut. 33:2; Isa. 19:1; Zech. 1:16; Mal. 3:1-2; Matt. 10:23; Rev. 2:5; 3:20).

· The clouds means a spectacular event, such as numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory. It could also mean an extraordinary storm of clouds. This also means judgment (Ezek. 30:3; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 16:28; 24:30, 34; 26:64).

· Peoples of the earth. This means Jesus loves us and has washed our sins away from God’s presence. Not just the Israelites, but also all people in Him are those elected ones and have courage, comfort, and faith in Christ. He rules over all (Prov. 21:1; Dan. 2:21; 4:17; Zech. 12:12).

· Mourn points to the distress of Christ’s Second Coming. Those who refuse Him will be judged. The realization will come that our will is not in control and our desires and sin have gotten us a raw deal. What comfort to those in persecution at the hands of such people to know that they will get what is coming (Zech. 12:10)!

· I am refers to God the Father testifying that the Son, Christ, is God (Heb. 13:8).

· Alpha and the Omega means God is eternal and rules over all places and time. He is omnipotent, all-powerful. Referring to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet meaning His Sovereignty, Christ is all in all; He is LORD of all that is past, present, and is to come. His will and purpose will come true, and ours will not; so, to grow, we must surrender to Him (Isa. 41:4; 44:6; Rom. 8:18-25; Gal. 2:20-21; Rev. 22:12-16).

· Who is to come. Christ is coming and all will consummate His will and purpose. Justice and His Kingdom will be fulfilled, and every knee will bow (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 21:1-22:5)!





Exegetical look into Revelation 1: 1-3

28 01 2009

What does Revelation mean?

Another key word is what does soon mean? This will affect how we look at this passage!

· The word, Revelation, is from the Greek title word “apokalypsis.” This means “discourser of events,” as opposed to secret or hidden. Thus, even though Revelation is symbolic in places, it is not hidden to us when we take an honest look and compare it to other Scriptures rather than trends or newspapers. It also means an uncovering, an unveiling or, as we have it in the English, a Revelation. The other title that has been used is “The Apocalypse.” Thus, Revelation is a book of disclosure of John’s seven visions and God’s exhortations; hence, this is why sometimes it is rendered in the plural, Revelations (Judges 6:11-23; Dan. 7:16; 10:5-21).

· Him…John was John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee (Matt. 10:2), a prophetic witness and disciple of Jesus, and the writer of the Gospel of John (John 1:1; Rev. 1:1, 3-4, 9; 22:6-10, 18-19). He was exiled to the Island of Patmos around 95 A.D. during the writing of this Epistle (Matt. 20: 20-23; John 21:24; Acts 12:1-2).

· Show is the hope in the midst of the reality of life and suffering. Being in Christ is eternal security, but dangerous in the world in which we live; we may experience martyrdom (Rev. 12:11).

· His servants suggests that there is no special elite class in the Kingdom of God. We all are His servants; we are all special and anointed to serve.

· Soon/swift/shortly (Greek “Tachos”) means quickness and speed. The events that will happen suddenly and unexpectedly (Matt 24:32; 2 Pet. 3:8-18) refer to God’s divine providence and the final phase. The time of waiting is over, for Christ is here. The time is near for God who lives outside of space and time, but not necessarily near for us. This is similar to the last days, referring in context to the sudden nature of the Christian era, not necessarily a time reference (2 Pet. 3:3). Many Christians took this to mean that it would happen soon. We need to understand God’s perspective, not our desires. This word is critical to which approach and view of Revelation one takes. If we take this word as it is in English and do not pay attention to the Greek or the context, we will jump to the conclusion of immediate fulfillment. This also suggests that we will see spiritual warfare. Our battle with Satan is real and will engage us in conflict and strife with one another until the end of the age (Acts 2:16-17; 1 John 2:18; Rev. 22:6-12, 20).

· Testifies/witness are legal terms. In contrast to the early Christians who were being betrayed and prosecuted in courts by false witnesses and fake evidences, nothing is fake in Christ. He is our hope and light (Isa. 43:8-12; 44:8-9).

· The testimony of Jesus Christ indicates that even though an Angel delivered this message to John, Jesus is the principle and prime Witness we look to so we can have strength of faith and perseverance, and so our testimony is strengthened (Rev. 3:14; 19:10-11; 22:6, 16-20).

· Blessed. Those who are faithful in Christ will receive the good will of God as blessings from Christ; those who reject Him will be judged. Being blessed also refers to the emotional states of satisfaction, well-being, and contentment that result from being approved by God and by the fulfilling of our duty. It is enjoying God’s special favor and His Grace working in us. It is like being told by parents that they are proud of us (Matt. 5:1-12; Rev. 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7-14). This is a book more of blessings than of just predictions, as there are also seven beatitudes in Revelation (Rev. 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14).

· Prophecy points toward Revelation, which contains visions of future events meant to help us fortify our faith and remain faithful (Isa. 1:1; Jer. 1:1; Hosea 1:1; Rev. 19:10; 22:7-19).

· Take to heart/keep. The purpose of this epistle is to strengthen our spiritual formation, not to seek melodramatic theories or sensationalistic ideas.

· The time is near. God is ushering in the last days and revealing to us His previously hidden agenda and plans. The concern is not just for future events, but also how we conduct ourselves in them. Whatever unfolds is irrelevant if we do not have the strength of faith to endure and learn from it (Heb. 1:1-2; Rev. 22:10).





Revelation 1: 1-8

28 01 2009

“Greetings to the Seven Churches!”

Introduction

This Epistle opens with Christ testifying to the visions of God given to John the Apostle through an angel of what is going to happen to the Church. The purpose was not for information for John or encouragement for his captivity and isolation; rather, it was meant to be shared with the rest of the Christian community. Its purpose is to bless and encourage us so we can stand firm and grow further in our faith. What has been revealed will happen to us personally and in a future culmination. This book has meaning and application for all who read it as well as a glimpse of a hope to come.

This letter is primarily targeted to seven, actual churches in Asia Minor, which is now modern Turkey. John is proclaiming the Divine Authority, Sovereignty, and Lordship of Christ as well as the important relevance of Christ in us, so that we can have peace and anticipation in Him. Christ is Lord.

This is reality for us, both now and when He comes back for us. Even when all seems lost and hopeless, He is in command and His plan is in commission. Although it is John who pens the words of this book of Revelation and an angel delivers it, it is witnessed to as truth by Christ Himself who is faithful to us. We are exhorted to praise and worship Him Who is worthy of our praise because He has freed us from our sins and separation from God by the shedding of His own blood. He has made us a home, a kingdom, and a dwelling for eternity.

Now, the theme switches to the magnificent glory to come as we are given a glimpse of the coming of our Lord that all will see. It will be the ultimate of shock and awe. Christ is proclaimed as the All in All of all things, the Beginning and the End, the Almighty One!

Context

Revelation has often been identified as an ominous apocalypse of chaos and catastrophe. But, this is not necessarily the point. Revelation opens with an elaborate greeting so we can more firmly connect our relationship with Christ and receive hope and encouragement. John calls us to the privilege and necessity of reading and hearing His Word (most people could not read and needed it to be read to them), because the authority is Christ Himself.

The Church was undergoing the beginnings of more severe persecution than what they initially went through in James’ and Peter’s time when the Roman Emperor Nero was blaming the Christians for the burning of Rome (which he had caused), making them the scapegoat (54-68 AD). And/or (depending on date; see previous posts on the date) at this time or a time soon to come, the Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD) had stepped up the persecutions. They were harsh, perhaps the worst ever endured in church history. Perhaps this letter is also preparing them for the road ahead (Rev. 1:9; 2:9-13; 13:7-10).





Research insights into the Date of Revelation, Part III

5 01 2009
More Word usage and “internal evidence for an early date:”

The eight kings mentioned in Revelation 17:9-14, may present a date of early 70 A.D. just before the destruction of the Temple which happened in the fall season. The argument goes that if the kings were the Roman emperors, and if it started with the first, 1. Augustus, with the next seven being 2. Tiberius, 3. Caligula, 4. Claudius, and 5. Nero (who died June 9, 68 A.D. and may be the “deadly wound” in Rev. 13:3-14), then after Nero’s murder which left the Roman Empire in chaos, there were three very short lived “pocket emperors” 6. Galba, 7. Otho, and 8. Vitellius, who sought to take advantage of the situation and consolidate power, but each was quickly assassinated. Then, after the eighth one came Vespasian, who restored order in 70 A.D. but also did not live long (Job security was not good then). The date can be predicated because the “deadly wound” was healed by Vespasian (Rev. 17:10). If you did not count the pocket emperors, Vespasian would be sixth and Titus the seventh and Domitian the eighth. So an argument can be made using this system for both date theories. Even though the length of a Roman Emperor’s reign might be short, he was still the king.

Another wording of note is how the tense of word and context of “beast” is used. In Revelation 17:8-11, it says, the beast, which you saw, once was, now is not. If the “beast” represents the Roman Empire and its megalomaniac emperors like Nero and Domitian, then Revelation could not have been written during the reigns of either Nero or Domitian; rather, just before either one! Now this just confounds things a bit more.

Another “internal evidence” is how John addressed his personal situation. John was still to experience a lot of life after this writing, not that he was ready to die of old age. In Rev. 10:11, John is told that he “must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” If John received this message around 96 A.D., how could he be able to walk and travel? Of course, an assist from God would be an answer too. If he was told this in 65-70 A.D., then he had lots of time and the enablement to do it.

An O.T. word example in Daniel 9 is the term “the abomination of desolation.” This is an image of extreme evils, oppression, sexual exploitations, and the seductions of the world, referring to the evils of paganism and immorality and rationalizing it as OK (Lev 18:23; Jer. 3:3; Ezek-. 27; Hos. 2:2; Rev. 2:23; 7:3; 13:6). Antiochus IV Epiphanes destroyed the Temple in 167 B.C., at which time he also desecrated an idol of Zeus resembling himself. But wait; there is more! Herod rebuilt it, and it was just being finished at the time of Christ (Daniel 8:12, Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel 11:31, 12:11, Matthew 24:15, Revelation 11). This also refers to Matthew 24, and the most despicable apostasy and sacrilege that a Jewish person could conceive of that caused the desolation of the most holy place of the Temple. Daniel predicted this would happen after the death/rejection of the Messiah, which was also fulfilled at the crucifixion and the Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D. (Dan. 9:25-27; 11:31).

We will also see that Matthew 24 addresses the same issues as Revelation and the same period of time as Daniel 9. In Matthew 24, Jesus is not talking about the end of the future world, but the destruction of the Jewish temple, marking the end of the Jewish system or “age”. He is not teaching about “The Last Day” (of history), but the last days of the Jewish economy, the false religious system of the Jews, and the beginning of the New Covenant era. This is what John’s readers and hearers were going through.






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