The Silence of God

In prayer, we often experience deafening silence. We pray faithfully and the prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling. So what is going on?

My prayer for a successful men’s ministry has always been followed by watching to see what God could be up to. As I pray and plan, I desire for God to make himself and his will plain to me. The event comes and goes with moderate numbers. I hope to encourage men to become involved with something greater than themselves, that which will help them to become better husbands and fathers. I’m not a complicated guy, so changing the hearts of men MUST be a part of what God would want, and would actually bless. But the Men of Steel has never taken off with growth and numbers. So, THIS WEEK, I am coming to the point where I must surrender and say that God may not want me moving in that direction.

Unanswered Prayer:

If prayers go unanswered, the standard line is that there must be some unconfessed sin in our lives. That is exactly what Job’s friends claimed as he was going through so much suffering.

But there is another reason for God’s silence. It could be that God is about to bring into our lives a greater revelation of himself than we could have ever known. This what we find in John 11:4-5, 21, 32, 40.

Jesus could have come to see Lazarus, Mary and Martha as soon as he heard of the illness, but he waited, for a reason. The people were going to see a greater glory of God, more than just a healing from sickness, but a resurrection from the dead. God will let you know what he is doing in your life WHEN and IF you need to know it. In John 11, Jesus’ delay and silence was not rejection, but he was going to disclose himself far more than they had ever known.

We can respond to God’s silence in one of two ways:

  1. We may go into depression, guilt and self-condemnation.
  2. We may have an expectation that God is going to do something far greater than we could have asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20).

I remember a time of deafening silence from God. Kim and I just left the mission field and were on leave of absence from the IMB (meaning no support). We sold many personal items to raise money for air tickets back to the states. We stayed at my parents’ home in Birmingham since they had room for my family of four. I looked for a source of income which eventually came in the form of working at a Lemstone Christian bookstore. It was minimum wage, working with several college students and a couple retired people, but it was something to supplement our savings that was being depleted month by month. (By the way, the people at Lemstone were one of the best supportive communities of faith of which I had ever been a part… which is another story).

All the while I was seeking meaningful employment to stay in the ministry and provide for my family. God was silent. There was no prospect for full-time employment on my horizon. I exhausted my list of friends in the ministry, referrals and recommendations. I had a fairly good resume and did not even get to the interview stage in the job hunting process. I was feeling forsaken by God and forsaken by my denomination. God was silent. I was broken.

About the time that our savings was nearly gone and I was debating whether to get my own business license (for roofing and painting) I received information from the IMB home office in Richmond about an opening as a missionary consultant. It was a personnel position, and with my background in and love for missions, my counseling degrees and experience, and my desire to stay active and faithful in Christian ministry. God’s timing was the best. I learned a great lesson through this experience: God did not meet my need when I wanted it met. When all my sources of security and stability where gone, I needed HIM alone. That event is where God’s name became “God is my Provider” because he provided what I needed when I needed it the most.

Stay strong, wait patiently, watch for what God is doing and when he moves, be ready to respond in childlike faith and obedience.

God, if I ever give you a request and you have more to give than I am asking, cancel my request and give me what YOU want. I trust that YOU will let me know what I need to know and when I need to know it. Help me examine my life to confess and eliminate sin and prepare me for deeper understanding of yourself.

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A Summary of the Week

There has been a lot of teaching in the Experiencing God workbook this week, so for today, I’m just going to review the summary statements:

God Speaks in Different Ways (Hebrews 1:1-3):

  1. If I don’t know when God is speaking, I am in trouble at the heart of my Christianity.
  2. God speaks to his people, he desires to reveal himself, his purposes and his ways.
  3. THAT he spoke to his people is more important than HOW he spoke.
  4. When God spoke in the Bible, it was unique to that individual.
  5. When God spoke in the Bible, the person was sure it was God speaking.
  6. When God spoke in the Bible, the person knew what God had said.
  7. When God spoke in the Bible, THAT was the encounter with God (it did not lead to an encounter with God).
  8. If I don’t have clear instructions from God in a matter, I will pray and wait. I will not bypass the relationship with God by moving out in my own strength.

God Speaks Through the Holy Spirit:

  1. An encounter with the Holy Spirit is an encounter with God.
  2. I understand spiritual truth because the Holy Spirit is working in my life.
  3. When I read the Bible, the Word of God, the Author himself is present to instruct me.
  4. Truth is never discovered, it is always revealed.

God Reveals Spiritual Truth:

  1. God revelation is designed to bring me back into fellowship with him.
  2. God reveals himself to increase me faith.
  3. God reveals his purposes so I will do his work.
  4. God reveals his ways so I can accomplish his purposes.

 God Speaks Through the Bible:

  1. God speaks uniquely to individuals and can do it any way he chooses.
  2. When God speaks, his people hear and understand his voice.
  3. I cannot understand spiritual truth unless God reveals it to me.
  4. God is more interested in what I become than what I can do.
  5. The process of hearing God through the Bible (use Proverbs 22:7 as an example):
    1. The Spirit prompts me…
    2. So I read God’s Word.
    3. The Spirit reveals a truth.
    4. I adjust my life to that truth of God.
    5. I then obey God.
    6. God works through me to accomplish his purposes.
  6. Confession is agreeing with the truth that the Spirit has revealed to me.
  7. Here is a guide to responding to the truth God reveals:
    1. Write down the verse.
    2. Meditate over the verse.
    3. Study the verse, immersing yourself in what is written and revealed.
    4. Identify adjustments I need to make in my personal life, family, church or work.
    5. Write a prayer response to God.
    6. Watch to see how God may use this truth about himself and my life.
  8. Understanding spiritual truth does not lead me to an encounter with God, it IS the encounter with God.

God Speaks Through Prayer:

  1. When the God of the universe tells me something, I need to write that down.
  2. Truth is a person.
  3. Prayer is two-way communication with God.
  4. Prayer is a relationship, not a religious activity. Prayer develops that relationship, we spend time with people we love.
  5. Prayer is designed to adjust me to God, not to adjust God to me.
  6. Oswald Chambers said that prayer doesn’t change things. Prayer changes me and then I change things.
  7. I need to make sure that my only desire is the will of God, and not my own will.
  8. The process of God speaking through prayer:
    1. God initiates a desire to pray.
    2. The Spirit uses God’s Word to reveal truth.
    3. In the Spirit I pray in agreement with God’s will.
    4. I adjust my life to the truth revealed.
    5. I look and listen for confirmation from from the Bible, circumstance, and the church.
    6. I adjust my life and obey.
    7. God works in me and through me to accomplish his purposes.
    8. I then experience God just as the Spirit revealed during prayer.

God Does Not Go Against His Word:

Blackaby mentions it is never God’s will to go against his reveal truth. Could it ever be God’s will to deceive in order to support a higher value of life? We know lying is wrong (Exodus 20:16, Proverbs 14:25, Psalm 58:3, 62:4, Isaiah 59:4, John 8:44), so we cannot say it is ever God’s will that I tell a lie, yet we read…

  1. Biblical examples:
    1. 1 Kings 22:21-23 mentions a lying spirit from God.
    2. 2 Samuel 15:33-36 mentions a planned deception: 33 But David told him, “If you go with me, you will only be a burden. 34 Return to Jerusalem and tell Absalom, ‘I will now be your adviser, O king, just as I was your father’s adviser in the past.’ Then you can frustrate and counter Ahithophel’s advice. 35 Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, will be there. Tell them about the plans being made in the king’s palace, 36 and they will send their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to tell me what is going on.”
  2. Practical example:
    1. Suppose someone with a gun breaks into your house and asks if your wife and kids are in the house.
    2. You know that they are hidden in the back of the closet but you say “NO” in order to protect them.
    3. I know this is extreme, but does the situation warrant a choice of values whereby we sacrifice a lesser value (truth) to uphold a higher value (life)?

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How God Has Spoken

The only way for us to know God clearly is for God to speak to us, by revealing himself. Keep in mind that HOW God speaks is less important than the fact THAT God speaks. In the past he has spoken is various ways (Hebrews 1:1)…

  1. Angels (Genesis 16)
  2. Visions (Genesis 15)
  3. Dreams (Genesis 28:10-19)
  4. Use of the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30)
  5. Symbolic actions (Jeremiah 18:1-10)
  6. Gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12)
  7. Miraculous signs and wonders (Exodus 8:20-25)

Important factors to remember about God speaking:

  1. When God speaks, it was usually unique to that person: Moses had a burning bush, so we are not to look for our OWN burning bush experience.
  2. When God spoke, the person was sure God was speaking: Moses had no excuse to not know who it was speaking to him from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).
  3. When God spoke, the person knew what God said: Moses knew exactly what God said and wanted him to do… or Moses would not have come up with all those excuses.
  4. When God spoke, THAT was the encounter with God: he is not just revealing new information, he is inviting you into an encounter with him.

Open and Closed Doors:

Many people want to do God’s will and say something like, “Stop me if I’m wrong and bless me if I’m right” or “I’m proceeding in this direction and will continue through open doors until the doors are closed.” Henry Blackaby says this pattern is found nowhere in Scripture.

He says that in following open doors, we are allowing experience to guide us; or a tradition, or a method or a formula. The key is then a relationship with God to know him, his purposes and his ways. I understand what he’s saying but I found an example of just the opposite.

Paul is doing the work that God had called him to do, preach to the Word of God to the nations, to people who needed to hear about salvation through Jesus Christ. Then we come to this passage in Acts 16:6-8.

6 Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. 7 Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. 8 So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas.

It sound a lot like they were traveling through open doors until those doors began to close. Are we to believe that God did not want the gospel to go to Asia? There will be billions of lost people in that direction. Hindsight would tell us that it was not God’s timing for Paul to go then. I’m sure Paul was confused until he received the night vision, the Macedonian Call is the very next passage (Acts 16:9-10).

9 That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.

My point is that Paul used this method of open and closed doors, before he had this direct revelation from God!

Open Doors and Delays:

Here’s a question: “Does God allow us to choose between two ‘right choices’ and the outcome does not really matter?” For Paul the choices were Asia or Europe? Both areas are full of lost people in need of the gospel. He chose a direction and the door gets closed. So, here I find a different case, in Isaiah 30:20-21.

20 Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. 21 Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.

Did you catch that? God will confirm to you the “right path” only AFTER you make the decision, whether we go to the right or the left seems immaterial. Blackaby mentions delays… that we should wait on God until we hear a clear word from him. We often pray that way; to know the right path BEFORE we have to make the decision. We say, “God show me the way.” In the Isaiah passage, it sounds as if there are some decisions that will honor God no matter which direction we go. Delaying is not encouraged here, since we don’t hear God’s word of confirmation until we have stepped out in faith.

The Meaning of Isaiah 30:20-21

Perhaps Isaiah is speaking of a future time when God will be so close, like seeing him face to face, and we are so in tune with his Spirit, that we constantly make the right choices. In context the adversity and suffering is the captivity; God reminding them that although they were defeated by the Assyrians, God has not abandoned them. He is near and will guide them. When you know his voice and follow in obedience, he will confirm your good decisions.

The word teachers or a teacher could mean the prophets to come, but since the word is singular, perhaps it means one divine teacher who is to come. God himself would teach his people. His presence will be visible and active, everyone will know the direction to go.

The words, “Walk in it” contrasts with “turn aside” in Isaiah 30:11. The people had been living in such a way that they were oblivious to their spiritual teachers (Isaiah 30:20); now they would be taught by the Spirit of the living God. After their period of judgment because of disobedience, God is to open Israel’s eyes to the soundness of the message of His prophets (Isaiah 29:24). When they hear “a word behind you,” the teachers will be near and the pupils sensitive to the Lord and his prophets, in strong contrast to the callousness they had been demonstrating (Isaiah 29:10-11).

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The Revelation of God

These are notes from my reading John R. W. Stott’s classic book, The Cross of Christ.

Here we are to investigate how the cross was a word and a work. And we ought to listen attentively.

The Glory of God: According to John, Jesus referred to his death as a glorification, and event through which he and the Father would be supremely glorified or manifested. The Bible tells us that heaven and earth are filled with his glory. The flowers in the field had glory exceeding Solomon’s, God showed his glory in delivering the people from Egypt (Ps 19:1, Isaiah 6:3, Matthew 6:29).

We had a glimpse of his glory at the transfiguration, and was manifested in the miracles or signs. John tells us that we have seen his glory. The cross appeared to be shame, but it proved to be glory. The synoptic gospels tell us that suffering is the pathway to glory. His coming death was his hour of glorification:

  1. Some Greeks came to see Jesus, “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” and then talked about his death (John 12:23).
  2. Judas leaves the upper room, Jesus says, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.” (John 13:31).
  3. In his high priestly prayer, Jesus says, “Father the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you” (John 17:1).

In the cross there is a clear and public demonstration of God’s justice (Romans 3:25-26) and his love (Romans 5:8).

The Justice of God: There is seeming injustice in God’s providence: Abraham’s plea with God over Sodom and Gomorrah, the entire book of Job, and Psalm 73 where evil people prosper.

Romans 3:21-26 – the reformers interpreted “a righteousness” to mean a righteous status which is of God; it is bestowed by him. We read about the sacrifice of atonement was to demonstrate God’s justice.

  1. The first look is to the past (all sins in the past had beforehand been unpunished, Romans 3:25), and it looks to the present and future (so as to be just and the one who justifies the man who has faith in Jesus, Romans 3:26).
  2. Why had he not judged sinners according to their works? Although self-restraint might postpone justice, he could not allow a backlog of sins to mount up indefinitely.
  3. The cross shows both his justice in judging sin and his mercy in justifying the sinner.

The Love of God: How can the horrors of the world be reconciled with the love of God? Why does he allow them?

  1. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16). Apart from Jesus, we know nothing about love.
  2. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10). The words, “live” and “propitiation” betray our severe need. Because of sin, we deserve to experience death and to die under the righteous anger of God. But Jesus bore the wrath instead of us.

God poured out his love (Romans 5:5) and he demonstrated his love (Romans 5:8).

  1. God gave his Son for us. He did not send another being or creature, but himself.
  2. God gave his Son to die for us. The incarnation was the beginning of his self-giving, having emptied himself, humbled himself and became obedient to death, on a cross.
  3. God gave his Son to die for us. For underserving sinners who have missed the mark.

Three marks of false love:

  1. Mark of limitation (something is withheld)
  2. Mark of control (someone is manipulated)
  3. Mark of detachment (we remain self-sufficient, unimpaired, and unhurt)

Three marks of authentic love:

  1. Characterized by limitless self-giving.
  2. Characterized by risk-taking with no guarantee of success.
  3. Characterized by vulnerability that is easily hurt.

Both the Father and the Son suffer the cost of their surrender, though differently:

  1. The Son suffers dying; the Father suffers the death of the Son.
  2. The grief of the Father is just as important as the death of the Son.
  3. The fatherlessness of the Son is matched by the sonlessness of the Father.

Is there more emphasis on God’s love over the cross? Is there repentance and salvation without the cross? Some stories illustrate God’s forgiving mercy and contain nothing about the need for an atoning sacrifice.

  1. Did Paul corrupt church dogma and make the cross necessary for salvation?
  2. Islam claims that the boy is saved without a Savior. The incarnation, the cross and the resurrection are all unnecessary. If God is truly great, he can forgive without all of these things.
    1. Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector: one was justified (Luke 18:9-14)
    2. Parable of the unmerciful servant: the king freely forgave and cancelled the debt (Matthew 18:23-35)
    3. Parable of the Prodigal Son: welcomes him back and reinstates him (Luke 15:11-24)

Middle Eastern understanding: the prodigal was returning in disgrace. Punishment was inevitable. The father bears the suffering rather than inflicting it. The father ran (his age ran nowhere under any circumstances), cultural humiliation, taking on the shame. This is the humiliation of the incarnation and the shame of the cross on our behalf.

Wisdom and Foolishness of the Cross: (1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5) – Jews demand miraculous signs and the Greeks demand wisdom. We preach Christ crucified which is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. Paul came without a message of human wisdom, or his own strength. Instead he brought the foolish, revealed message of the cross. He had to overcome his own weakness, fear and trembling and relay on the power of the Holy Spirit.

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How to Seek Guidance

People always want to know how they can tell what God wants them to do, the churchy question is phrased like this: “What is God’s will for my life?” You may be interested in reading more on the topic, I have a page covering several issues surrounding God’s will.

I discovered that there are only eight places in the Bible where the word guidance is used (in the NASB):

  1. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance (2 Kings 16:15)
  2. Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance (1 Chronicles 10:13)
  3. Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance (Proverbs 1:5)
  4. For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers (Proverbs 11:14)
  5. Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance (Proverbs 20:18)
  6. Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers (Proverbs 24:6)
  7. Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.” (Habakkuk 2:19)
  8. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:28)

We may seek guidance, but God provides something better, he provides himself.

The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (Isaiah 58:11)

Many of us struggle to understand and discern God’s guidance for our lives. We ask questions like:

  1. Should I marry or not?
  2. Should I marry this person or that person?
  3. Should I have another child? Should I join this church or that one?
  4. Which profession should I follow?
  5. What job should I take?
  6. Is my present line of work the one to stay in?

Herein lies the major distortion of knowing and doing God’s will. Does God lead and direct in these areas? Yes. Does he come out and overtly tell us what to do? Rarely.

So how does God guide us? Consider these principles:

  1. God’s guidance concerns itself more with our steps than our overall journey.
  2. God’s guidance is more preoccupied with the present than with the future.
  3. God’s guidance has less to do with geography and more to do with morality.
  4. God’s guidance is more interested in our character than our comfort.
  5. God’s guidance is not insider information.
  6. God’s guidance is that we pursue the Guide more than guidance.

In seeking God, his plan will be revealed to us. His way will lead back through his Word. If the step is more critical than the journey, and the present is of greater consequence than the future, and the Guide more essential than the guidance, what is needed? We need to know the right step to take and to know what we must do in the present. That’s why we need to know the Guide.

God does not guide us magically; he guides us relationally. Therefore, the Bible must be studied so we may become acquainted with the ways and thoughts of God. God’s aim is that we become his companions who walk with him. He already knows us, so now he wants us to understand and know him. The more we understand him, the more real our relationship will be with him and the more likely we are to keep in step with him in the direction he is taking us.

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The Revelation of Jesus Christ


This is from my personal reading and study of the Book of Revelation. A must-read book on this subject is Ray Summers commentary on The Revelation, Worthy is the Lamb.

  1. The prologue (Revelation 1:1-20)
  2. Seven letters to seven churches of Asia Minor (Revelation 2:1-3:22)
    1. Ephesus – The careless church (seaport) (Revelation 2:1-7)
    2. Smyrna – The crowned church (dead 600BC-AD290) (Revelation 2:8-11)
    3. Pergamum – The compromising church (library) (Revelation 2:12-17)
    4. Thyatira – The corrupted church (huge ovens) (Revelation 2:18-29)
    5. Sardis – The crippled church (1500′ plateau) (Revelation 3:1-6)
    6. Philadelphia – The committed church (door) (Revelation 3:7-13)
    7. Laodicea – The comatose church (aqueducts) (Revelation 3:14-22)
  3. A vision of heaven (Revelation 4:1-11)
  4. The seven seals are opened (Revelation 5:1-7:17)
    1. The scroll in heaven (Revelation 5:1-14)
    2. The six seals opened (Revelation 6:1-7:17)
      1. Retribution (Revelation 6:1-8)
      2. Response (Revelation 6:9-17)
      3. Redemption (Revelation 7:1-17)
  5. The six trumpets are blown (Revelation 8:1-9:21)
    1. Preparation (Revelation 8:1-6)
    2. Desolation (Revelation 8:7-13)
    3. Liberation (Revelation 9:1-21)
  6. A testimonial interlude (Revelation 10:1-11:19)
    1. The testimony of the mighty angel (Revelation 10:1-10)
    2. The testimony of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:1-14)
    3. The testimony of the elders (Revelation 11:15-19)
  7. The seven signs (Revelation 12:1-15:8)
    1. The terrible trio (Revelation 12:1-13:18)
    2. The voices of victory (Revelation 14:1-15:8)
  8. The seven bowls are poured (Revelation 16:1-21)
  9. The reign and ruin of Babylon (Roman Empire) (Revelation 17:1-20:15)
    1. Desolation: the scarlet woman (Revelation 17:1-18)
    2. Destruction: Rome’s allies and municipal Rome (Revelation 18:1-24)
    3. Disclosure of Babylon’s Conqueror (Revelation 19:1-20:15)
  10. The Lamb and eternal destiny (Revelation 20:11-22:21)


  1. Babylon
    1. The fall – Revelation 17:1-18:24
    2. The origin – Genesis 11:1-9
    3. The seven laments – Revelation 18:1-24
  2. Plagues
    1. Compare the ten plagues of Egypt to the ones in – Revelation 16:1-21
    2. This section is refers to the exodus – Revelation 15:2-4
    3. This is a vision of judgment, while Exodus is one of salvation.
  3. The Tree of Life
    1. The Bible starts in the garden – Genesis 2:8
    2. The Bible ends in a garden – Revelation 22:1-5
  4. The Lord Jesus Christ
    1. Note all the names and titles of Jesus in the book.
    2. Note especially the title Lamb: refer to John 1:29-37; Hebrews 9:1-28; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19
    3. Come Lord Jesus:
      1. Lord = His majesty
      2. Jesus = His humility


I. The prologue (Revelation 1:1-20)

  1. The title (Revelation 1:1) the Revelation, singular
  2. The author (Revelation 1:1-2, 4, 9; 22:8) God Himself through John
  3. The readers (Revelation 1:3-4) read aloud in the churches
  4. The dedication (Revelation 1:4-6) Father and Son, the one returning is the same one who died for their sins, and..
    1. The seven spirits of God: (Revelation 1:4; 4:5; 5:6; Isaiah 11:1-2). The spirits of the Lord, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, counsel, might, and worship.
    2. The trumpet: (Revelation 1:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:52)
  5. The theme (Revelation 1:7-8) He is coming with the clouds
  6. The occasion: The first vision of Christ (Revelation 1:9-18)
    1. What John heard (Revelation 1:9-11) loud voice as a trumpet, telling him to write of that which he sees
    2. What John saw (Revelation 1:12-16) seven golden lampstands, with the Son in the middle (symbolic of value, purity, strength)
    3. What John did (Revelation 1:17-18) fell at His feet in awe
  7. The outline (Revelation 1:19) write the things which you have seen (chapter one), the things which are (2-3) and the things which shall take place (Revelation 1:4-22).
    1. It is a Christ-centered book
    2. An open book (Revelation 22:10)
    3. A symbolic book
    4. A prophetic book
    5. A blessed book (Revelation 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:9, 20:6, 22:7, 22:14)
    6. A relevant book
    7. A majestic book
    8. A universal book
    9. A climactic book
  8. The introduction to the churches (Revelation 1:20)
    1. Seven stars are angels (or pastors?) of seven churches
    2. Seven lampstands are seven churches

II. Seven letters to seven churches of Asia Minor – Revelation 2:1-3:22

  1. Ephesus – The careless church (seaport) Revelation 2:1-7 – The temple of Artemis, the goddess of wild nature, involved fertility rites with hundreds of sacred women. It also contained a great theater (Acts 19:27-29).
    1. Approval (Revelation 2:2-3, 6)
      1. A serving church: doing God’s work and activities
      2. A sacrificing church: laboring, to the point of exhaustion
      3. A steadfast church: patience, endurance under trial
      4. A separated church
        1. From false doctrines: examining visiting ministers as in (2 John 7-11, Acts 20:28-31).
        2. From false deeds: Nicolaitans were a Gnostic group that taught one could worship Caesar in the flesh and Christ in the Spirit.
          1. The word literally means “to conquer the people” or lord over them.
          2. They initiated the separation between clergy and
            laity, not taught in the NT. All of God’s people are
            kings and priests (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6) and have equal access to God through the blood (Hebrews 10:19-22).
      5. A suffering church: bearing burdens without fainting
        1. Accusation (Revelation 2:4) return to your first love
          1. What we do for the Lord is important, but so is why we do it.
          2. They left the devotion to Christ which characterizes new believers: fervent, personal, uninhibited, excited.
          3. Life becomes routine when the honeymoon is over.
          4. It is possible to serve, sacrifice and suffer for Christ, yet not really love him! They maintained their separation that they forgot about adoration. Labor is no substitute for love.
          5. Paul emphasized “love” to the Ephesians, at least twenty references, and it must be pure (Ephesians 6:24).
        2. Admonition (Revelation 2:5-7) the lampstand will be taken away unless we follow the three instructions he gave:
          1. Remember: keep on remembering, what we have lost and cultivate a desire to regain that communion.
          2. Repent: change our minds and confess to the Lord (1 John 1:9)
          3. Repeat: the first works, which suggest restoring the original fellowship that was broken by our sin and neglect. The church that loses its love will soon lose their light, no matter how doctrinally sound it may be.
  2. Smyrna – The crowned church (dead 600BC-AD290) Revelation 2:8-11 – Once rebuilt, Roman Cicero, claimed the city was the first of Asia in beauty and size, much beauty due to its orderly arrangement. The “crown of Smyrna” was a well-known phrase, referring to the public buildings on top of Mt. Pagos, the city’s Acropolis. The arrangement looked as if the city was a statue sitting with her feet in the sea, and her head rising to heaven and crowned with a circle of beautiful buildings.
    1. Approval (Revelation 2:9) enduring poverty and slander of the Jews, who were a large and influential community in the city and contributed to the city’s beautification. Unwillingness to say, “Caesar is Lord” would mean unemployment and poverty. Their suffering for Christ only made them more rich (2 Corinthians 6:10, 8:9). A true Jew was not one physically or racially, but spiritually (Romans 2:17-29). Any religious group that does not acknowledge Jesus as God’s Son is acting contrary to God’s will.
    2. Admonition (Revelation 2:10-11) No words of accusation for Smyrna!
      1. Satan will have some of them thrown into prison 10 days,
        symbolical for a complete but brief period of time. The important thing was faithfulness, standing true to Jesus no matter what might threaten us.
      2. The “crown of life” refers to the winners wreath and they could be overcomers and victorious Heb 12:1-3 and they would never face the awful judgment to come, second death, which is the lake of fire – Revelation 20:14, 21:8.
  3. Pergamum – The compromising church (library) Revelation 2:12-17 – The library was second only to Alexandria (Mark Anthony later sent it to Cleopatra as a gift). Our word parchment comes from Pergamum. It was also known as the city of the sword in the ancient world. The throne of Zeus was located on the mountain top in the city.
    1. Approval (Revelation 2:13) Christian witness near Satan’s throne, yet remained true to Christ. They refuse to say, “Caesar is lord.” The symbol of Jesus (with a sword) would comfort the people because a sword was the symbol for the Roman proconsul. It was important that the church fear Christ’s sword than the proconsul!
    2. Accusation (Revelation 2:14-15) Satan had not been able to destroy them.
      1. False teachers circulated
        1. Teaching of the Nicolaitans: ruling over people – Revelation 2:6
        2. Teaching of Balaam (idols, immorality) also meaning, “lord of the people.”
          1. Balaam was a true prophet who prostituted his gift.
          2. God turned the curse into a blessing (Numbers 22-25) but Balak invited the Jews to worship and feast at his pagan altars.
          3. The Jews fell into a trap and became “good neighbors” but they began to compromise, yet Antipas refused.
      2. Fornication of saying, “Caesar is lord” cost them their crown. Pergamos means “married” reminding us that we are the bride of Christ and must remain pure (2 Corinthians 11:1-4).
    3. Admonition (Revelation 2:16-17) Many Jews believed hidden manna had disappeared to be presented once again in the Messianic age. The white stones were used in local elections, and sentencing (white is innocent and black was guilty) so John is stressing the reward of possession and entrance into the Messianic age.
      1. Present judgment: they would feel His sword
      2. Present appeal: to the individual “he who has an ear…”
      3. Present approval: declared righteous in Christ – white stone
  4. Thyatira – The corrupted church (huge ovens) Revelation 2:18-29 – The picture brings to mind the blazing fires of the brass and bronze ovens. The longest message was sent to the smallest town. It was a military and commercial center with many trade guilds. The city boasted of their temple to Apollo, their sun god, which explains why Jesus introduces himself as the Son of God.
    1. Approval (Revelation 2:19) Their work was stronger than the first. They were and busy bunch involved in sacrificial ministry for the sake of others. They were characterized by faith, love and patience, so they were not guilty of mere religious activity.
    2. Accusation (Revelation 2:20-23) Allowing false prophets – Jezebel – a new word from the Lord, the authority of cults, claiming to know the deep things (secrets) of God (Revelation 2:24) The seductive teaching of Jezebel was similar to that of Balaam, since she taught believers to compromise with the Roman religion.
      1. Ephesus was weak in love, yet denounce false teachers
      2. Thyatira was growing in love, yet tolerant of false teachers and it was also unwilling to repent in its pride.
    3. Admonition (Revelation 2:24-29) They will have no burden, must hold fast, and they will share in the Messianic rule. Jesus is the bright “morning star” Revelation 22:16 and the reference in Revelation 2:28 would suggest that the people are so close that they actually belong to him. Lucifer in Hebrew means “brightness, bright star” which reinforces that the church was following the depths of Satan, where the church on the other hand would share the Morning Star.
  5. Sardis – The crippled church (1500′ plateau) Revelation 3:1-6 – It was a fortress city, wealthy and would need to defend itself often. The rock on which the upper city rests was limestone, subject to erosion. Cyrus found an eroded hole and led his soldiers under the wall into the heart of the city. The people of Sardis were proud and careless. History was repeated in 230 BC when Antiochus the Great of Syria captured Sardis by attacking the unguarded mountain side of the city. Great churches need a warning about living in the past: most going through stages of a man, a movement, a machine and then a monument. They were in the monument stage and there was still hope because Christ is the head of the church.
    1. Accusation (Revelation 3:1b-2) deeds were passive and not active and have not reached their completion (sanctification). They fell to invaders twice due to passivity. They were not aggressive witnesses: there was no persecution because there was no invasion of enemy territory.
    2. Admonition (Revelation 3:3-6) The Son of Man will come as a thief. White garments of purity. There is a faithful remnant even in a dying church, where there’s life there’s hope. Also, the book of life seems to represent the tax ledger that has Persian origins. It will be a list of the true believers who persevere to the end Luke 10:20.
  6. Philadelphia – The committed church (door) Revelation 3:7-13 – The city was named after Attalua II (159-138 BC), who was called Philadelphus because of his love for his brother, Eumenes. This city, along with Sardis, was destroyed in an earthquake in AD 17. Tremors continued for a long time and people refused to re-enter the city. They chose to live in tents outside the city walls. The city was also the doorway to bringing the Greek culture to the Barbarians. There was great success that by AD 19, Greek became the dominant language in the area.
    1. Address (Revelation 3:7b-8) Before it is a great missionary opportunity Acts 14:27, 1 Corinthians 16:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12, Colossians 4:3
    2. Admonition (Revelation 3:9-13) Some of their efforts have been forceful, a little power, and they needed greater dedication. They are in need of perseverance. Jesus gives promises to them:
      1. He would take care of their enemies (Revelation 3:9)
      2. He would keep them from the hour of testing, which has been interpreted to mean from the great tribulation (Revelation 3:10) Hold fast or their crown would be taken away.
      3. He would honor them (Revelation 3:12) The overcomer will be pillar in
        the temple (important person, vs. simply a supportive and stable part of the structure).
  7. Laodicea – The comatose church (aqueducts) Revelation 3:14-22 – The city was founded by Antiochus II (261-246 BC), and named it for his wife, Laodice. The city was well known for its banking and manufacturing, like wool. There was also the medical school there, known for its ear medicine and eye salve. It was quite a wealthy town, and seemed to host the weakest church. There is no praise for Laodicea.
    1. They lost their vigor (Revelation 3:16-17a) Their works were as their city water supply, lukewarm. There were aqueducts to the hot springs, 95 degrees F, and by the time the water reached the city two miles away, it was lukewarm. Temperatures in the church:
      1. A burning heart, on fire for God – Luke 24:32
      2. A cold heart – Matthew 24:12
      3. A lukewarm heart – Revelation 3:16
        The church cannot be a closed system, independent from Christ (John 15:5) and Jesus was on the outside wanting to get in Revelation 3:20.
    2. They lost their values (Revelation 3:17b-18a) The church bragged about being rich. John warns them to buy refined gold and wear white, (which corresponds to the city’s claims to fame). Perhaps the church needed some persecution since they were too comfortable (1 Peter 1:7).
    3. They lost their vision (Revelation 3:18b) They also should use the eye salve, from their medical school, due to their blindness. Peter teaches that when a believer is not growing in the Lord, his spiritual vision is affected (2 Peter 1:5-9).
    4. They lost their vesture (Revelation 3:17-22) Salvation means Christ imputed righteousness to us; Sanctification means that his righteousness is imparted to us, made a part of our character. They thought they were clothed with splendor when they were really naked!
      1. Explanation (Revelation 3:19a) God loves and reproves even these lukewarm
      2. Exhortation (Revelation 3:19b) Be zealous and repent, stir up the fire
      3. Invitation (Revelation 3:20-22) The Lord will come in and dine with them if they would only let Him do so. Those who persevere until the end will sit on the throne with Christ. He speaks to the individual: if any man…

III. A vision of heaven – Revelation 4:1-11 – Believe in God… (John 14:1) Power – Song of creation that will move into a Song of re-creation, redemption (Revelation 5:9-10)

  1. The Throne (Revelation 4:1-3) which is the key word in this chapter. A door standing open in heaven, and the voice speaks (Revelation 4:1)
    1. On the throne – God Almighty: John is in the spirit and God (who cannot be seen) is upon the throne (Revelation 4:2-3a) Jasper and Sardis in appearance (white and reddish).
    2. Around the throne – a rainbow: it circles the throne like an emerald (3b) (Genesis 9:12-17) represents hope.
  2. The Throng (Revelation 4:4-8)
    1. Around the throne – the 24 elders (Revelation 4:3-4, 6-7) The old and new Covenants: twelve tribes and twelve apostles. Later John will see the names of the 12 tribes on the gates of the new city and the apostles on the foundation (Revelation 21:12, 14). White robes and palm branches represent victory. Also, The four living creatures around the throne (Revelation 4:6b-8) God is surrounded by His creation. Full of eyes represents divine sight and wisdom. There is a hymn of praise to a Holy and Powerful God.
      1. Lion: wild creatures
      2. Ox: domesticated creatures
      3. Man: intelligent life
      4. Eagle: flying creatures
    2. Out from the throne – storm signals (Revelation 4:5a) lightning/thunder represent God’s displeasure (Exodus 19:16).
    3. Before the throne – seven Lamps and a sea (Revelation 4:5b-6a) Lamps stand for the Holy Spirit, for throughout the Bible, fire has stood as a symbol of the Spirit of God. The sea has represented an uncrossable divide (especially to a man exiled on an island), or standing for Gentile nations (Isaiah 57:20; Revelation 17:15) which looked like crystal (sea = separation) Revelation 21:1.
  3. The Temple Comparison
    1. Earthly Temple – Heavenly Sanctuary
    2. Holy of Holies – The throne of God
    3. Seven branched candlestick – Seven lamps of fire
    4. Bronze altar – Sea of glass
    5. Cherubim over the mercy seat – Four living creatures
    6. Priests – Elders
    7. Brazen altar – Altar (Revelation 6:9-11)
    8. Incense altar – Incense altar (Revelation 8:3-5)
    9. Ark of the covenant – Ark of the covenant (Revelation 11:19)
  4. The Theme: adoration to the throne (Revelation 4:9-11) A hymn of praise to the creator, not the creature (idolatry) Today the creation is groaning, then it will be glorious.
    1. Living creatures give glory, honor and praise to Him
    2. The 24 elders fall before Him on the throne and cast their crowns before the throne.

IV. The seven seals are opened – Revelation 5:1-7:17

  1. The scroll in heaven (Revelation 5:1-14) Believe also in Me (John 14:1) Love – song of re-creation comes out of the Song of creation (Revelation 4:11)
    1. The scroll (Revelation 5:1) a book written inside and on the back (whereas nothing more could be added) sealed with seven perfect seals: which could be God’s redemptive history; or the title deed to creation, for Christ alone is the rightful heir (Psalm 2:8, Hebrews 1:2). Satan offered Him the world in return for one act of worship, but Jesus won the right to receive the scroll when he gave himself on the cross. Jesus is our Kinsman-Redeemer (Leviticus 25:23-46, Jeremiah 32:6-15).
    2. The search (Revelation 5:2-5) to find someone to open it
      1. The strong angel: “Who is worthy to open it?”
      2. No one in heaven, on earth or under earth was able to open it or even look at it.
      3. John begins to weep aloud (as a hurting child) until an elder stops him.
      4. Behold the Lion of Judah, from the root of David: He has overcome, so as to open the book
    3. The Savior (Revelation 5:6-7) worship him because:
      1. Who He is (Revelation 5:5-7) The Lion of the tribe of Judah, A Lamb standing as if He were slain (7 horns 7 eyes) divine power and sight (1 Kings 21:11; Zechariah 1:18) Strength and bravery turns to absolute goodness (Lion – Lamb)
        1. Slain: sacrifice for sin – 1 Peter 1:18-20
        2. Lamb: savior – John 1:29, Genesis 22:7, Revelation 5:12 offering salvation through the person and work of Christ.
        3. Lion: sovereignty, courage and dignity Genesis 49:8-10
          bringing judgment
      2. Where He is (Revelation 5:6a)
        1. He is in heaven: not the manger or in Jerusalem
        2. He is in the midst: between the throne and the elders
        3. He is at the throne: taking back his glory from his earthly humiliation and earthly life.
      3. What He has (Revelation 5:6b) Seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth
      4. What He does (Revelation 5:7) He took the book from Him on the throne.
    4. The song (Revelation 5:8-14)
      1. What He does (Revelation 5:8-10) incense represent prayers – Psalm 141:1-3 – The redemptive mission of Christ brings men into proper relationship with God. He experienced the same sort of death as the martyrs.
        1. It is a worship song (Revelation 5:8) they fell down
        2. It is a Gospel song (Revelation 5:9a) His redeeming work was for all mankind because He was slain.
          1. For individuals (Galatians 2:20) crucified with Christ
          2. For families (Exodus 12:3) Passover
          3. For the nation (Isaiah 53:8, John 11:49-52)
          4. For the world (John 1:29)
        3. It is a missionary song (Revelation 5:9b) John 3:16, Matthew 28:18-20
          1. Common ancestry: tribe
          2. Common language: tongue
          3. Common race: people
          4. Common government: nation
        4. It is a devotional song (Revelation 5:10a) Christ’s redeeming work brings about a royal priesthood of believers. They have direct access to the Father.
        5. It is a prophetic song (Revelation 5:10b) Christ will reign on earth
      2. What He has (Revelation 5:11-14) Thousands of angels join in the fourth hymn of praise to the Lamb.
        1. He is worthy because He was slain: willing to follow the will of God and complete His mission.
        2. He is worthy to receive gifts of power, wealth, wisdom and might. Similar attributes are given to God in a later worship scene (Revelation 7:12).
        3. He is worthy to receive the praises of the creation because He carried out God’s purposes.
        4. Every created being joins in on the fifth hymn of praise. The throne represents the very presence of God.
  2. The six seals opened (Revelation 6:1-7:17)
    1. Retribution – Revelation 6:1-8
      1. White horse – conquering (Revelation 6:1-2) A victorious Roman general would often ride on a white horse during the victory parade. The bow was the weapon of warfare.
        1. Every stage has been set with its conquerors, from Alexander the Great to Hitler.
        2. The futurist will see this as the anti-Christ.Abuse of political power: as Satan tempted Jesus
        3. Desire to control other people: conquering them, as the Romans had enslaved millions
        4. The desire for a crown often motivates the conqueror: to be worshipped, the praise in the victory parade.
      2. Red horse – warfare (Revelation 6:3-4) the expected follower of the white horse. Pride and individual greed pushed conquerors on to the brink of war. Jesus spoke of the cycle of wars and rumors of wars (Mark 13:7).
        1. The Christian is called to peacemaking
        2. The Christian needs to be the salt of the earth
        3. Jesus stood against the armed forces of Rome and called His men to be peacemakers.
      3. Black horse – famine (Revelation 6:5-6) History has shown that after every major war there was famine on the earth. A quart of wheat selling for a day’s wage, and the daily ration for a Roman soldier of the first century. The average man would have to feed his entire family on the same amount. The church must address the problem of hunger in our world.
        1. Action must replace love, brotherhood and fellowship
        2. Christian concern loves the subject doing the action,
          involvement in feeding the world (James 2:16).
        3. It is easy to give some money, yet it is difficult to pick out a person in need and help them
      4. Pale horse – death (Revelation 6:7-8) the color of a corpse on the battlefield. The underworld was a source of fascination for the Greeks and feared by the Hebrews. Sheol was a shadowy existence of your former life. Later the Hebrews developed a belief in life after death. This horse is expected after the other three, a timeless cycle.
        1. The victorious Lamb in the midst of the horsemen
        2. We need not fall under the forces of evil at work
    2. Response – Revelation 6:9-17
      1. Martyrs – How long O Lord? (Revelation 6:9-11) Those dead due to their faith under the altar of sacrifice. An attitude of revenge? More of a wrath against sin being essential to righteousness.
      2. Many believed that the original model for the temple was in heaven.
      3. The sacrifice would be killed and the blood was thrown against the base of the altar (Leviticus 4:7, 17:11).
      4. The blood of the martyrs is thrown against the base of the heavenly altar, and they cry out for justice.
      5. The Greek word translated as “witness” is the English term “martus.” To give a verbal witness was to risk your life on what you believed.
      6. God will not judge the world until the martyr’s number is complete (11) perhaps impatience
        1. The proclamation of the witness – Revelation 1:9
        2. The struggle of the witness – Revelation 7:14
        3. The victory of the witness – Revelation 7:9-10
      7. Earth-dwellers: physical disturbance preview – Revelation 6:12-17
        1. No part of God’s creation escapes judgment
        2. No person escapes God’s judgment: people would rather turn on, than turn to, God.
        3. “Wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:16) seems a paradox
        4. Parallel to Jesus prophetic words
          1. Matthew 24 – Revelation 6
          2. False Christs (Matthew 24:4-5) – White horse rider (Revelation 6:1-2)
          3. Wars (Matthew 24:6) – Red horse (Revelation 6:3-4)
          4. Famines (Matthew 24:7a) – Black horse (Revelation 6:5-6)
          5. Death (Matthew 24:7b-8) – Pale horse (Revelation 6:7-8)
          6. Martyrs (Matthew 24:9) – Martyrs under altar (Revelation 6:9-11)
          7. Chaos (Matthew 24:10-13) – Chaos (Revelation 6:12-17)
  3. Redemption – Revelation 7:1-17
    1. Sealing of all believers on earth (Revelation 7:1-8)
      1. 144,000 from 12 tribes: identification with Christ. The number 10 – completeness; The number 12 – wholeness makes 12 X 12 X 10 X 10 X 10 = 144,000. John borrows the idea from the Exodus where the plagues came upon the Egyptians and not the Israelites. Here in Revelation, the blood of the Lamb is placed on the foreheads of the believers to protect them from the coming trumpet judgments, although it does not protect them from the need to suffer and die for their testimony. The seal marks the person as redeemed.
      2. Problems with literal interpretation of Jews:
        1. Levi included when they received no inheritance (Numbers 18:20-24, Joshua 13:14)
        2. Joseph named but not Ephraim, who is usually connected with his brother Manasseh.
        3. Dan is omitted here, yet included in Ezekiel’s list for a piece of the land (Ezekiel 48:1) Suggestions have been made that Dan led in idolatry on many occasions (Leviticus 24:11, Judges 18:1-31, 1 Kings 12:28-29).
        4. The NT constantly breaks the barrier between Jew and Gentile, so why here?
        5. All are marked in Revelation 22:4.
    2. Protection of all believers in heaven: from plagues but not the need to suffer and die for their faith (Revelation 7:9-17)
      1. Their description
        1. They are accepted: standing before the throne and the lamb, having been rejected on the earth (Revelation 7:14)
        2. They are joyful: singing praises to God (Revelation 7:10)
        3. They are rewarded: the privilege to be before the throne and serving Him (Revelation 7:15)
      2. Their details
        1. White robes: victory and purity (Revelation 7:9, 13)
        2. Palm branches: victory (Revelation 7:9)
        3. No more hunger and thirst (Revelation 7:16a)
        4. No more heat (Revelation 7:16b)
        5. The Lamb has become the Shepherd (Revelation 7:17)
          1. Walking: guiding
          2. Watering: providing life
          3. Wiping: tears of pain, fear and remembrance

V. The six trumpets are blown – Revelation 8:1-9:21

  1. Preparation – Revelation 8:1-6
    1. Silence (Revelation 8:1) in heaven for 30 minutes
      1. Half-an-hour space of silence as symbolical of delayed judgment, God bringing it in his own time, brought out by the angels restraining the four winds (Revelation 7:1-3).
      2. Silence may be used for dramatic effect. John has already seen the instruments of judgment, the demand for judgment, the terror of the approaching judgment, and the provision for God’s people during the judgment. Anxiety sets in as to what is next.
    2. Supplication (Revelation 8:2-6) incense of victory
      1. Trumpets were used for (Numbers 10:1-10)
        1. Calling the people together
        2. Calling the armies for battle
      2. Announcing special occasions like the day of atonement – Leviticus 16:11-14
        1. High Priest would put incense on the coals in the censor and, with the blood of the sacrifice,enter the holy of holies.
        2. Here the angel put the incense on the altar (prayers before God) and then cast the coals on the altar to the earth. The parallel in Ezekiel 10:1-22 indicates that this symbolizes judgment. The storm is about to begin. The prayers of God’s people are involved in the judgment he will send
    3. Symbolism
      1. 1/3 (incomplete judgment/God’s mercy) fractions
      2. “The Decline And Fall Of The Roman” Empire by Gibbon
        1. Natural disasters: trumpets 1-4
          1. Earthquake, volcanic eruptions and floods
          2. Mount Vesuvius erupted in August AD 79 pouring a fiery flood that engulfed Herculaneum and Pompeii
          3. Pliny the younger told of the horrors: ashes from the burning mountain fell on ships far out to sea and upon the distant shores of Egypt and Syria. There was first an earthquake and then the eruption which started the total destruction of lava and sulphurous fumes. The sky turned dark, blacker and thicker than most nights.
          4. Another time the island volcano Santorin had erupted, giving the suggestion of a burning mountain. Fugitives told of destroyed vegetation and how vapors killed fish and turned the sea red like blood.
        2. Inner rot and decay: trumpet 5
        3. Barbarian invasion: trumpet 6
  2. Desolation (Revelation 8:7-13) divided into four, two and one
    1. Earth smitten – Revelation 8:6-7
      1. Hail, fire and blood on much of the earth – Joel 2:30
      2. All green grass was burned, see Revelation 9:4
      3. Reminder of the seventh plague in Egypt – Exodus 9:18-26
    2. Sea smitten – Revelation 8:8-9
      1. Great volcanic eruption
      2. Third of the sea becomes blood: ecological disaster
      3. Third of creatures die, ships destroyed: economic disaster
      4. Reminder of the first plague in Egypt – Exodus 7:19-21
    3. Rivers smitten – Revelation 8:10-11
      1. A great star fell from heaven: called Wormwood
      2. Third of rivers and springs become poison. Imagine fish and plants that depend on this water for life.
      3. Wormwood means “undrinkable” and synonymous with sorrow and great calamity – Jeremiah 9:15, 23:15, Lamentations 3:15, 19, Amos 5:7
    4. Heavens smitten – Revelation 8:12-13
      1. The whole earth is affected since the source of all life is smitten, the sun.
      2. Third of the sun, moon, stars will be dimmed: think of the change in temperature and human health, and the effect on crops and other plants.
        1. Reminder of the ninth plague in Egypt – Exodus 10:21-23
        2. The day of the Lord is darkness – Amos 5:18, Joel 2:1-2
        3. It is possible that this judgment is temporary since the fourth bowl will reverse it, and the sun will intensify – Revelation 16:8-9
      3. The heavenly messenger of woe: Revelation 8:13, 9:12, 11:14 (The eagle being a symbol of a bad omen).
  3. Liberation – Revelation 9:1-21
    1. The army from the pit: men smitten – Revelation 9:1-12
      1. Here is the introduction of the first monster beasts, representing monster people, coming from the abyss. The Greeks believed the volcanoes led from this world to the underworld.
      2. These forces are led by monster locusts, which were a cause for great dread to agrarian societies. Yet these are not normal locusts: size of horses, human faces, hair like women, lion’s teeth and scorpion tails.
      3. For John, these represent the inner rot and decay of the Roman empire: a series of corrupt rulers and leaders; immorality and idolatry; which all come from within.
      4. They were not to harm the grass (Revelation 8:7, 9:4) which was a common diet for locusts, but would spend the next five months tormenting men until they desired death over life, yet death will flee from them (Revelation 9:6)
        1. Only men without the seal on their forehead (Revelation 9:4)
        2. The lifespan of a locust is about five months (Revelation 9:10)
        3. Their king is named “Destruction” (Revelation 9:11)
    2. The army from the east: men killed – Revelation 9:13-21
      1. Rome eventually fell to the Barbarians from the east, past the Euphrates River which was the eastern boundary of the Roman empire. Beyond was the Parthian nation, which the Romans were never able to conquer. God has used these nations as instruments in his judgment.
        1. Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC
        2. Judah fell to the Babylonians in 587 BC
      2. John’s army is of 200,000,000 (in regular formation this makes a troop one mile wide and 85 miles long).
        1. Riders with breastplates of fire
        2. Horse’s heads like lions: Fire, smoke, brimstone from their months; Snakes for tails, biting men, killing 1/3, not just tormenting them.
        3. Since 1/4 of the world’s population is already dead, this number gets us up to half the world’s population has been killed (Revelation 6:8) by the time of the sixth trumpet.
        4. The point is that these horses can attack from the front and the rear at the same time.
        5. After five months of torment and then fire and brimstone horses, men would repent. But this is not the case (Revelation 9:20)
        6. The most frightening thing about Revelation 9 is not the judgments that God sends, but that men persist in their sinning even while God is judging them! (Revelation 9:20-21)
          1. Demon worship and idolatry: dead sinners/dead gods (Isaiah 14:12-15, Matthew 4:8-10) Satan always wanted to be worshiped (1 Corinthians 10:19-21)
          2. Murder and theft
          3. Sexual immorality
          4. Sorcery: including the use of drugs
      3. The whole picture is one of an external invasion which would serve as an instrument of God’s judgment to punish the oppressors of his people.

VI. A testimonial interlude – Revelation 10:1-11:19 The trumpet blasts are temporarily interrupted, in precisely the same manner as between the sixth and seventh seals (Revelation 7:1-17), by two consolatory visions. One is Revelation 10:1-11 and the second is Revelation 11:1-13.

  1. The testimony of the mighty angel – Revelation 10:1-10
    1. The description of another strong angel – Revelation 10:1-4
      1. He being Jesus Christ has little support – Revelation 10:1-2
        1. Here the angel is a messenger of divine vindication, as elsewhere in the book of Revelation
        2. He stands on the land and on the sea to indicate that the message is for the world
      2. The lost Seven Thunders section – Revelation 10:3-4
        1. He cries with the voice of a lion, to attract attention to what he is about to say.
        2. Thunder: a symbol of warning – Revelation 8:5, 11:19, 16:18
        3. They serve as a premonition of the divine wrath to come
        4. John in obedience is about to write what he saw and heard, and a voice stopped him, and to seal them up
        5. The lost act of the Revelation: seals, trumpets, thunders and bowls…
    2. The declaration of the angel – Revelation 10:5-11
      1. The truth will be revealed – Revelation 10:5-7
        1. The reason for this is given in the next few verses: there was to be no more warning or delay – Revelation 10:6 and the seventh trumpet will usher in the finish of God’s mystery – Revelation 10:7
        2. Men heard the warnings and still refused to repent
      2. The bitter-sweet scroll (Revelation 10:8-11) is the second thing of importance in this scene.
        1. He is instructed to take the little book and eat it
        2. He is assured that it would sweet in his mouth and bitter in his stomach, and the words were true
        3. The book’s content
          1. Some say it holds the vision of chapter 11
          2. Others say it is another revelation which begins with chapter 12 and goes to the end of the book
          3. Others say it is the commission to go and preach God’s judgment on those who have rejected him
          4. It appears that the content has to do with matters of sorrow and woe as in Ezekiel 2:8-10.
          5. It seems that the message of lamentation and woe was rather general: woe upon men under God’s judgment for having rejected him; woes upon Christians in the hands of their enemies; woes upon the church in conflict with the great power of Rome; woes upon Rome for her great destruction. He was to prophesy to many peoples, nations, tongues and kings (Revelation 10:11)
        4. The meaning of eating the book
          1. The messages of judgment he had just predicted
          2. That he was to thoroughly master his message: he was assimilating it and makes it part of him
            1. Sweet: the joy of receiving a revelation from God and trusted to deliver it; OR the message of judgment on those responsible would be sweet to those who were suffering.
            2. Bitter: delivering the message would be bitter, no matter how much he knew sin needed punishment; OR the horror of actually seeing the judgment.
  2. The testimony of the two witnesses – Revelation 11:1-14
    1. Temple measurement (Revelation 11:1-2) the third symbol in this interlude: the inner and not the outer court, since it had been given to the nations (who will trample the city for an incomplete time – 42 months).
      1. This does not mean the temple was still standing, nor that the temple is to be rebuilt prior to the end
      2. This language is purely symbolical
      3. Measurement is for special care and preservation or protection: true Israel will be protected from the wrath to come.
      4. This is a vision of consolation for God’s people in contrast to the condemnation for their oppressors; the court of Gentiles was not measured, meaning the great bulk of the Gentile world will suffer in Rome’s punishment and judgment.
    2. Time of ministry (Revelation 11:2-3) 42 months is 3.5 years: an uncertain time, restlessness turmoil, an indefinite number. So, God will protect his people during this indefinite time, but he will bring in a turning (1260 days is 3.5 years).
    3. Traits of miracles – Revelation 11:4-6
      1. The identity of the witnesses
        1. Witnesses at the end of the age, with supernatural powers and divine protection. They will be killed by the representatives of the anti-Christ, but after 3.5 days they will come back to life. They are Moses and Elijah Malachi 4:5-6, Elijah being the forerunner to the end times, the day of the Lord. But Jesus even said John was Elijah (Matthew 17:11-13, 11:1-4). The question is, “What possible comfort could have there been for the first century Christians?” Nil.
        2. The continuous-historical interpretation applies this to the apostasy of the church during the reformation. 1260 days represents 1260 years (putting the time in the reformation. The witnesses are then the true church and the preachers who never stop witnessing during this dark period. Meaning for the early church? Nil.
        3. Remember this is an interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets, a part of three other parts that are symbolic. Moses and Elijah can symbolize the Word of God, the law and the prophets. Elijah had the power to close the sky and Moses was able to turn water into blood. The image is that God’s Word will never be destroyed. The witnesses are immediately resurrected after martyrdom.
      2. The number “2” symbolized strength. They are the testimony or witness of great power. The Christian witness will be maintained, even in the midst of adversity.
      3. The two olive trees could present Joshua and Zerubbabel, priests during the time of Ezra (Zechariah 3:1-4:14) where they helped re-establish Israel in Palestine (Revelation 11:4)
      4. The seven branched candlestick represents the eyes of God
    4. The martyrdom of the witnesses – Revelation 11:7-14
      1. Termination – Revelation 11:7-10
        1. The beast is symbolic for Rome and Jerusalem
        2. They are killed and subject to indignity
        3. The world rejoiced at their death, as Rome thought it had killed the way of Christ
      2. Translation – Revelation 11:11-14
        1. God’s power caused Rome to be overthrown and enabled the redemptive message of the Gospel to live on in triumph
        2. This period was just ahead for the church
        3. After an indefinite period of turmoil and trouble, their enemies will recognize that it must have been the power of God to have done all these things
        4. Some people will see this demonstration of God as from him and will turn to give him glory. This was another evidence in the triumph of the Gospel over the empire
        5. The second woes is past, the third is coming – Revelation 11:14
  3. The testimony of the elders – Revelation 11:15-19
    1. Announcement: the seventh trumpet sounds – Revelation 11:15 The seventh trumpet brings rejoicing
    2. Acclamation: the praise of elders – Revelation 11:16-18
      1. The elders give thanks because God is beginning his reign: he will rule in love and mercy as opposed to the emperor
      2. Dark days have been experienced but Christ is victorious
      3. The dead (without Christ) will be judged, and the faithful will be rewarded
      4. God will destroy those who destroy the earth
      5. The whole purpose of the trumpet plagues was to cause people to repent; and to remind us of the decline and fall of Rome
    3. Assurance: the faithfulness of God – Revelation 11:19
      1. The temple is opened and the ark is seen
      2. The ark always went before them in battle
      3. Thunder, lightning, earthquake and hail in heaven?
      4. The point is that God has not forgotten his people even though darker days are ahead of them. His covenant is secure even though the enemy will continue to persecute God’s people. It is like a headline announcing the victory, then the writer goes into detail as he tells the story.

V. The seven signs – Revelation 12:1-15:8

There are those who feel that the Revelation of John ended at chapter 11 (complete in itself), and that 12-20 is a second Revelation (supported by Revelation 10:11). The characters and the conflict is essentially the same but is presented under a different aspect. From here to the end of the book the action moves much faster, culminating in a complete victory of Christ over all evil.

  1. The terrible trio – Revelation 12:1-13:18
    1. The dragon beast – Revelation 12:1-17
      1. War on Earth: dragon against the woman – Revelation 12:1-6
        1. Mother Israel: 12 stars, fled to the desert for an indefinite period of time
        2. Man-child: the Messiah, to rule the nations, caught up to God after His ascension (nothing is said about His life or death). A lot happens in Revelation 12:5!
        3. Red dragon: murderous activity
          1. Seven heads and crowns: divine authority or wisdom
          2. Ten horns: claims complete power in this age, sweeping a third of the stars with his tail (representing paradise lost and Satan took a third of the angels in his rebellion (Isaiah 14:12-15).
          3. It is made clear that he is the Satan – Revelation 12:9. Satan and the woman have had conflict since the beginning – Genesis 3:15. Throughout history Satan has attempted to prevent the birth of a redeemer: Moses had Pharaoh, called the dragon (Ezekiel 29:3) and Jesus had Herod, and then Judas.
      2. War in heaven: Bethlehem scene – Revelation 12:7-12
        1. Paradise lost (Isaiah 14:12-15)? This section is not an historical account of Satan’s origin. It is apocalyptic imagery designed to emphasize the devil’s efforts to destroy the Christ and His people. He could not destroy him on earth, then he failed to destroy him in heaven. So, he will not turn his wrath against the woman.
        2. Michael means “Who is like God?” parallels Satan’s attack on God from the beginning.
        3. Devil means “accuser” and Satan means “adversary” but Jesus represents our advocate before the throne – 1 John 2:1-2
        4. He will have great wrath for only a short time
        5. The woe to the earth: reminiscent of the three woes – Revelation 9:1-12; 9:13-21; 11:14-19
      3. War on Earth again: Satan, Son, Church – Revelation 12:13-17
        1. The dragon has no more access to heaven and attack the woman who gave birth.
        2. God will prepare a place for her protection; the remnant will be sheltered for an indefinite time.
        3. The flood can represent a flood of anti-Semitism. Remember that the center of God’s redemptive plan has always been Jesus and not the Jews. The emphasis is not so much on the destiny of the Jews as it is the efforts of Satan and his raging conflict.
        4. Enraged at the woman, the dragon makes war on her seed, a definite reference to the church – Revelation 12:17, which is his fourth battle, and he calls in some allies to help.
    2. The sea beast: political beast – Revelation 13:1-10, 18
      1. Seven heads: seven major Caesars from Jesus to John
        1. Tiberius 14-37
        2. Caligula 37-41
        3. Claudius 41-54
        4. Nero 54-68 -|- (Galba, Otho, and Vitellius)
        5. Vespasian 69-79
        6. Titus 79-81
        7. Domitian 81-96
      2. The dragon gives the beast his power – Revelation 13:2
      3. Wonder: one head survives a fatal wound – Revelation 13:3 Nero
      4. Worship: who is like the beast? A mighty empire – Revelation 13:4, 8 which will be regulated by a second beast
      5. Words: blasphemies: claims of divinity – Revelation 13:5-6
      6. War: punishment for the persecutors – Revelation 13:7-10
      7. His number: 666 – Revelation 13:18
        1. Hebrew consonant equivalent – nron ksr = 666
        2. A=100, B=101, C=102 then Hitler can be  = 666
        3. Latin – neron = 666 or 616
        4. The number is significant, not the name: 6 represented the falling short of the perfect 7, raised to a power of 3, it represented a power of evil of which there can be none greater. So, in John’s day the personification of evil was Domitian, fitting the Nero Revivius myth.
    3. The land beast: religious beast – Revelation 13:11-17
      1. There are no crowns, so no political power, but is a committee to enforce the worship of the first beast
      2. He resembled the Lamb: religious appearance – Revelation 13:11
      3. He spoke as the dragon, with authority – Revelation 13:11
      4. His power came from the empire – Revelation 13:12
      5. He enforced emperor worship: “commune” or “concilia” was the official body charged with enforcing worship. The hollow statues could “speak” – Revelation 13:15
      6. The fatal wound: Nero – Revelation 13:12
      7. False prophets and their miracles – Revelation 13:13
      8. The mark: to buy and sell in the market – Revelation 13:16-17
  2. The voices of victory: forces of righteousness – Revelation 14:1-15:8
    1. The voice of the 144,000 – Revelation 14:1-5
      1. Standing with Christ: a definite reference to the triumphant Christ. After the dark chapters of evil, the curtain drawn reveals the Lamb and his protected 144,000, who have the mark of the Lamb (his name, and the his Father) – Revelation 14:1
      2. Singing to Christ: a new song – Revelation 14:2-3 No one could learn (understand) the song except the redeemed
      3. Separation from the world – Revelation 14:4-5
        1. Not defiled with women: chaste – symbolic of the spiritual fornication of idol worship
        2. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes – absolute loyalty
        3. These have been purchased as first fruits
        4. No lie was found in their mouth – no denial of the supremacy of Christ, not confessing “Caesar is lord”
    2. The voices of the angels – Revelation 14:6-13
      1. Judgment has come – Revelation 14:6-7
        1. The angel will be allowed to preach the Gospel
        2. While the people worship the beast, he will call men to worship God alone, since He is the Creator, and the hour of judgment has come.
        3. This is not the Gospel as we know it (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) but a return to what theologians call natural theology based on Romans 1:18-23. Fear of the Lord, and not the beast, is the beginning of wisdom – Proverbs 9:10.
        4. He announces the victory even before the battle begins
      2. Babylon has fallen – Revelation 14:8 the doom of imperial Rome
        1. Babylon represented evil and repulsion to the Jews
        2. She forced spiritual fornication and idol worship
        3. Constative aorist tense: one momentary act of falling
      3. Escape God’s wrath – Revelation 14:9-13
        1. Directed to those who have followed the beast: the mark.
        2. “If any one continues to worship the beast” indicates another opportunity to repent.
        3. The contrast between – Revelation 14:11, 13
          1. Smoke of their torment goes up forever
          2. Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on.
          3. The Christian martyr burning at the stake had torment for but a moment, whereas the devotees of the beast will find a life of burning sulfur.
          4. Perseverance is done by keeping God’s commandments and not the commands of the concilia; and the faith of Jesus, not the emperor Domitian.
          5. The blessing of Christian death – Revelation 14:13
            1. Rest (refreshed) from their labors (adverse toil)
            2. Their works follow with them, not his rest empty-handed
    3. The voice of the reaper – Revelation 14:14-20 divine judgment
      1. The King: Christ appears as King (crown) and Judge (sickle)
      2. The harvest
        1. Grain – Revelation 14:14-16
          1. Often used to denote winning souls – John 4:34-38
          2. Here it is divine judgment – Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
        2. Grapes – Revelation 14:17-20
          1. The vine of Israel – Isaiah 5:1-7
          2. The Christian’s vine is Christ – John 15:1-5
          3. The world system is also a vine
      3. The river: even futurists have a hard time if this is literal since they can’t get a 200 mile river into Palestine! The point is that divine judgment is a terrifying thing.
    4. The voice of the victors – Revelation 15:1-8 exaltation of redeemed
      1. Prelude to the bowl judgments – Revelation 15:1-4
        1. Seven angels with seven plagues: wrath of God is finished
        2. The saints standing of the sea of glass, the sea is still a separation between the holy God – Revelation 4:6, 15:2
        3. They sang the song of Moses: the exodus is all over this
          1. The nation delivered from Egypt by the blood
          2. The Egyptians destroyed in the Red sea
          3. They sang in thankfulness for what God had done
      2. Postlude of their celebration – Revelation 15:5-8
        1. The struggle between good and evil is over, the time for judgment has come.
        2. The martyrs asked “how long?” – Revelation 6:9-11 and now it is finished and done – Revelation 10:7, 16:17

VI. The seven bowls are poured – Revelation 16:1-21 – The empire was still strong and in no way in danger of falling. But to the enlightened one, John, the state was doomed and it was only a matter of time before Rome was totally engulfed in divine judgment. There are many similarities between the trumpet judgments and the coming bowl judgments. The judgments are upon nature and the effects are carried out on men, and there is symbolism connected to the plagues on Egypt. The trumpet judgments were a call to repentance, and the bowl judgments are visitations of punishment when hope of repentance is passed. The trumpets were partial and the bowls are total judgment. The trumpets did not reach men until trumpet four, men are hit right off with the first bowl. They are grouped as four, two, interlude then one, as the trumpets. The first thing to notice is the temple is now closed – Revelation 15:8.

  1. Bowl one – sores on men – Revelation 16:1-2
    1. The bowl is poured into the earth, yet men are affected
    2. The mark of the beast becomes rotten and cancerous
    3. Similar to trumpet five, the monster locusts tormenting men
  2. Bowl two – seas smitten – Revelation 16:3
    1. Trumpet two, 1/3 sea became blood, 1/3 creatures died
    2. Here the blood of a dead man, coagulated, all creatures died
    3. Seaport of the empire, commerce died as well
  3. Bowl three – rivers smitten – Revelation 16:4-7
    1. Trumpet three, 1/3 rivers became blood
    2. All became blood, – Revelation 16:4 in the judgment
    3. Reason given – Revelation 16:6, 18:24, Rome shed the blood of the saints: rivers of martyrs’ blood
  4. Bowl four – scorching sun – Revelation 16:8-9
    1. Trumpet four, heavens, darkened by 1/3
    2. Sun now intensified to burn men
    3. Men would rather curse God than surrender to him: hard, cold
    4. They still did not repent
  5. Bowl five – darkness on the beast’s throne – Revelation 16:10-11
    1. Gnawed their tongues due to the pain
    2. They blasphemed God and would not repent
  6. Bowl six – Euphrates River dried – Revelation 16:12-16
    1. Invaders are now able to come and destroy Rome
    2. Evil spirits gathering kings to war at Har-Magedon
      1. Out of the dragon, beast and false prophet: spirits/frogs
        1. Vomit from the mouth
        2. Breath, comes the form of frogs
        3. Mouth: verbal propaganda to bring discouragement
      2. This is the interlude as between trumpets six and seven
    3. Megiddo to the Hebrews: spiritual conflict, not material. The area symbolized worldwide distress of righteousness and evil engaged in deadly combat.
      1. Gideon and his 300 defeated the Midianites
      2. King Saul was killed by the Philistines
      3. Deborah defeated the Canaanite, Jabin
      4. Ahaziah died due to Jehu’s arrows
      5. Pharaoh Necho killed Josiah
    4. This is an announcement; the battle is – Revelation 19:19-21
    5. Jesus using a literal sword – Revelation 19:21?
      1. Goes against NT teachings – Matthew 26:52, see Matthew 10:34.
      2. If this be literal, so is the committee of frogs.
  7. Bowl seven – complete destruction – Revelation 16:17-21
    1. A voice out of the temple, “It is done” as on the cross, judgment is now complete, it is as good as done.
    2. The earthquake as no man has ever seen.
    3. The city into three parts: divine number three, no question as to how this destruction has come, no accident or circumstance.
    4. Even the strongholds of Rome are leveled: islands, mountains.
    5. Men continued to blaspheme in the midst of the hailstorm.

VII. The reign and ruin of Babylon (Roman Empire) – Revelation 17:1-20:15

  1. Desolation: The Scarlet Woman – Revelation 17:1-18 – Rome is now depicted as a harlot rather than a goddess. Since Rome is the central figure in the persecution of the Christians, three entire chapters are devoted to her doom. The predictions have already come (Revelation 14:8, 16:19). She practices fornication with the kings of the earth: and spiritual fornication of idol worship and draws (conquers) the world into her idolatry.
    1. Sits on many waters: people over whom she reigns – Revelation 17:15
    2. Spiritual fornication and drunkenness: Caesar worship
    3. Scarlet colored beast: the empire which supports the city – Revelation 12:3, 13:1, 17:3
    4. Golden cup of abominations: martyrs – Revelation 17:4, 6, drunk all the time (present participle); unclean things of her immorality may refer to the evils which came out of her idol worship and persecution.
    5. She is quite different from the radiant woman of chapter 12 as she is described as the mother of harlots and abominations.
      1. Futurists: restored Babylon at the end time
      2. Continuous historical: Roman Catholic Church
      3. As the angel revealed to John: I will tell the mystery – Revelation 17:7.
        1. The beast was, and is not, and is to come: – Revelation 17:10
        2. A reflection of the Nero Redivivus myth: the empire is pictured as the personification of Domitian, the reincarnation of Nero – Revelation 17:8
        3. The woman: Rome – Revelation 17:18
    6. The angel explains that the seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits: definite reference to Rome
    7. There are seven kings that made up the empire – Revelation 17:10-12
      1. Five fallen: Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Vespasian, Titus
      2. One is: Domitian
      3. One to come: Nero
        1. One of the seven – Nero
        2. Also the eighth – Nero Redivivus myth
    8. Ten horns: power of the empire, vassal kings given the authority of Rome for one hour, a brief time.
      1. One purpose: do the will of the emperor, persecution
      2. The Lamb will overcome them as well – Revelation 17:14.
      3. These kings will hate Rome, and will eventually come from the east to overthrow the empire – Revelation 17:16-17. This was one of the greatest fears Rome had, as revealed in the book of Acts, of turmoil and unrest which could lead to a rebellion and revolution.
  2. Destruction: commercial Babylon – Revelation 18:1-24 – Although the main point of the writer is the fall of Rome, he views it from several different points for emphasis.
    1. Doom of Rome’s allies – Revelation 18:1-20
      1. The voice of condemnation – Revelation 18:1-3
        1. Rome will fall because of spiritual fornication
        2. Merchants had capitalized on Rome’s behavior and had benefited from her evil ways, and became an ally
      2. The voice of separation – Revelation 18:4-8
        1. God’s people must come out from association with Rome or they will receive the plagues, too
        2. Rome’s sins have piled up to heaven, God remembers
        3. God will repay double for her deeds
        4. The fall will come in one day (one hour): plague, famine, mourning and death – Revelation 18:8,10,16,19
      3. The voice of lamentation – Revelation 18:9-20
        1. Kings still around – Revelation 18:8-10. Very similar to Ezekiel’s lament over Tyre (Ezekiel 26:16-17; 27:35)
        2. Merchants standing at a distance – Revelation 18:11-16 No one will buy their cargo anymore, some 30 items. They will fall with Rome.
        3. Sailors stood at a distance – Revelation 18:17-20. All the ships at sea became wealthy because of Rome
    2. Destruction of municipal Rome – Revelation 18:21-24 repetition
        1. The great millstone into the sea: the angel states that this is how Rome’s destruction will be, thrown down
        2. Municipal life will stop
          1. Amusement life – Revelation 18:22a
          2. Business life – Revelation 18:22b
          3. Home life – Revelation 18:23
        3. The blood of the martyrs stands as an eternal testimony against Rome and her wickedness, and to the loyalty of the Christians.
        4. Objection to this interpretation: Rome is still standing today. True, but it is not the persecuting Rome of John’s day. A combination of many things brought an end to that Rome, and the Christian movement which Rome tried to destroy still stands.
        5. The voice of celebration – Revelation 18:20-24
  3. Disclosure of Babylon’s Conqueror – Revelation 19:1-20:15
    1. Saints will rejoice – Revelation 19:1-6
      1. God has judged His enemies – Revelation 19:1-4
        1. A multitude singing hallelujah – Revelation 19:1, 3-4. Not so much over the fall of Rome as is the triumph of righteousness. This singing is above the wailing and laments of the kings, merchants and mariners.
        2. God’s judgments are true and righteous – Revelation 19:2, and has avenged the blood of the martyrs
        3. The smoke rises forever: not just burned to the ground but an eternal burning, always fuel to be added to the fire, and such a city can never be rebuilt.
      2. God is reigning – Revelation 19:5-6
        1. The multitude: sound of many waters and thunders
        2. They again sing hallelujah, for what is to come
    2. The bride is made ready – Revelation 19:7-10
      1. The bride has kept herself pure and clean
      2. Blessed are those invited to the celebration, which is take place at a later time
      3. John fell to worship the angel and is corrected
      4. The time for a complete union has not yet come since the Lamb has one final bit of battle to finish. The Revelation does not include the actual marriage of the Lamb, the images change.
        1. John does not show the release of the winds – Revelation 7:1, and he changed the figures to trumpets.
        2. God prepared the way for the Parthian kings, but did not use them – Revelation 16:12, instead using hailstones and an earthquake to destroy Rome.
    3. Christ will be revealed – Revelation 19:11-16
      1. The Lion, Lamb and Judge is now the Warrior
      2. He is followed by heavenly armies – Revelation 19:14
      3. All is symbolic; there is no mention of weapons, except the sword in His mouth – Revelation 19:15
    4. Armageddon will be ruined – Revelation 19:17-21
      1. The victory is announced before the battle begins, birds to come and feast – Revelation 19:17
      2. The beast and the false prophet were no match and they are seized before the battle begins – Revelation 19:20
      3. Interpretation:
        1. Futurist: literal end times battle, lots of blood and death, for the Lord to overthrown a personal antichrist, in order to set up His earthly millennial kingdom.
        2. Continuous historical: this is a tough one since the Catholic church is still around. They teach the battle is in the future.
        3. Meaning for the early church?
          1. Armageddon is not a place but a symbolic term for a decisive conflict.
          2. Christ comes down from heaven but it does not picture the event as described in the rest of the NT.
          3. This scene symbolically represents His coming to the aid of persecuted Christians with heavenly assistance in their spiritual struggles.
          4. If the beast is identified with the emperor, as he personified the pagan persecuting Roman Empire, there is no other explanation for this battle. It represents the final victory of Christ’s cause and people over that pagan empire.
          5. The beast (Domitian) and the false prophet (concilia) are thrown into the lake of fire, which is symbolic for their destruction. Christ overcomes them and the Christians are bothered by them no more. The conflict is a spiritual conflict.
        4. The rest are killed with a sword in His mouth – Revelation 19:21
          1. Some say this refers to the conversion of Rome’s allies, in this way they are considered casualties.
          2. Others, power of the judgment He speaks against foes.
          3. God’s Word is far mightier than any word of man.
    5. Satan will be restrained – Revelation 20:1-3. Victory over Satan
      1. From chapter 12 on, there have been three enemies, so there will be no complete victory until the third is defeated.
      2. This section is a continuation of the previous section, not the beginning of a new one, as chapters indicate
      3. The enemies appeared to succeed: saints robbed, persecuted, exiled, and slain; but this would not continue. It must be shown that the final triumph remains for the sake of righteousness.
      4. The main point of the section is the overthrow of Satan, and not the thousand years! John wanted to tell about the certain triumph of the cause of Christ, and those who were so terribly persecuted.
        1. Millennium: the word is literally 1000 years. Whole systems of theology, eschatology and philosophy of religion have been constructed based upon such highly symbolic language.
          1. Seven mentions in the Bible (one chapter in the Bible) describe a single event: Revelation 20:2-7
          2. Mentioned nowhere else in the NT, and not a central theme in the NT.
          3. Amillennialism: Christ began his rule at the resurrection and will rule for a complete time before he returns to take his faithful to heaven.
        2. What comfort is there to the persecuted church:
          1. A thousand years from then, a restoration of the Jewish monarchy, personal Antichrist, bloody Armageddon, victory?
          2. After a thousand years of Gospel preaching the world would be so perfect that the work of the devil would stop?
          3. The point: They saw their enemy, the devil, effectively stopped from deceiving the nations in the matter of emperor worship, which is the deception which began in chapter 13.
        3. Symbolism:
          1. Great chain is not literal; literal chain on a spiritual being is very not rational.
          2. The 1000 years is no more literal than the chain. Numbers symbolic and “ten” is a complete number, 1000 a high multiple of ten. The devil will be completely restrained from deceiving the nations into emperor worship.
    6. Saints will reign – Revelation 20:4-6. Victory with the martyrs
      1. Just as the devil will be completely bound, the martyrs were completely victorious, the 1000 years not literal.
      2. The reference to whom in Revelation 20:4 can only mean the martyrs of the Domitian persecution. Only be twisting Scripture could it mean anyone else.
      3. Their triumph is called the “first resurrection” not to be confused with the general resurrection at the end of the age (perhaps second resurrection).
      4. The second death (spiritual death) will not affect them, although they have passed faithfully through first death
      5. Literal 1000 year reign with Christ: those faithful to the futurist view have interpreted clear NT teachings on the second coming in light of these obscure symbolic passages, finding several resurrections.
    7. Satan will revolt – Revelation 20:7-10. Complete victory over Satan
      1. The point is that Satan will no longer be able to deceive the nations into emperor worship, but one would not expect him to give up without a fight. Just when one thinks he is bound forever, he breaks out in a new effort of deception.
      2. Gog and Magog: discussed in apocalyptic writings
        1. Gog: Antiochus Epiphanes? – Ezekiel 38:1-39:29
        2. Magog: Northern Greek kingdom? – Ezekiel 38:6
        3. John turns them into two nations – Revelation 20:8, using the idea of theological geography, the place of the enemies of God’s people. So, it symbolizes the complete victory of Christ over the ancient enemies of the saints.
        4. Satan is defeated again in a symbolic battle that surrounds the holy city.
      3. The lake of fire: hell or Gehenna is never mentioned in the Revelation. This is a new word for the place of eternal punishment, similar to Gehenna mentioned elsewhere in the NT. It is called the second death – Revelation 2:11, 20:6, 14, 21:8
    8. Sinners are recompensed – Revelation 20:11-15 – The Great White Throne
      1. A Terrible Fact – all sinful unredeemed human being will stand before the holy God.
      2. A Terrible Figure – John see him as the Lord with nail prints in his hands, scars on his back, a spear in his side, throne upon his head.
      3. A Terrible Fear – mankind once spat in his face but now their eternal destiny is in his nail-scared hands.
      4. A Terrible Fellowship – all the unredeemed dead, great and small. will stand before him. There is no hiding place.

VIII. The Lamb and eternal destiny – Revelation 20:11-22:21

  1. Destiny of the unredeemed – Revelation 20:11-15, 21:8, 27, 22:15
    1. Here is described the great white throne judgment.
    2. The throne symbolizes sovereignty and holiness.
    3. Judgment is measured on the basis of two books – the sentence handed down (eternal destinies decided).
      1. Book of deeds – the book of the lives of the lost. The names of those trusting in their own deeds.
      2. Book of life – the book of the life of the Lamb. The names of the saved are written here.
    4. The interim state of the dead? – Revelation 20:12-13. Having to do with death, the interim between death and the resurrection, the resurrection and the judgment.
    5. A number of judgments? or the same, only one?
      1. Sheep and goats.
      2. White throne.
      3. The point is: there will be inevitable judgment.
  2. The destiny of the redeemed – Revelation 21:1-22:5. Heaven is revealed from three different angles
    1. The Tabernacle: Fellowship with God – Revelation 21:1-8
      1. They are God’s people – Revelation 21:1-5
        1. No more sea of separation (Revelation 21:1)
        2. The holy city making ready for the bride (Revelation 21:2)
        3. The tabernacle of God among them (Revelation 21:3)
        4. No death, tears, mourning, crying, pain (Revelation 21:4) They had more than their share of these on earth
        5. All things are becoming new (Revelation 21:5a)
        6. Who is He that makes this promise? (Revelation 21:5b)
      2. They are satisfied people – Revelation 21:6
        1. The Alpha and Omega: they depend on His power
        2. They will never thirst again, drink without cost
      3. The are overcoming people – Revelation 21:7-8
        1. They will inherit these things
        2. He will be their God, and they His son
        3. Evil will be absent
          1. The cowardly – those who would not stand up to the beast and resist its influence – Revelation 21:8
          2. The liars – those who said “Caesar is lord” with is and abomination – Revelation 21:27
    2. The City: Protected by God – Revelation 21:9-26
      1. New heaven and earth needs a new capital for the bride (9)
      2. Jasper: ascribed to the glory of God – Revelation 21:11, 4:3
      3. Appearance
        1. High Wall: perfect protection from enemies
        2. Twelve Gates
          1. Abundant entrance – Revelation 21:12
          2. Entrance from any direction – Revelation 21:13
          3. Made of pearl – Revelation 21:21, the only precious jewel that is formed out of suffering and pain
          4. Names: 12 tribes of Israel – Revelation 21:12
          5. Gates that never close – Revelation 21:25
        3. The foundation: name of the 12 apostles – Revelation 21:14
        4. The Size: measurement – Revelation 21:16-17
          1. English translation has lost an image: 12,000 stadia might be 1500 miles, but 12 and 1000 mean something since 12 represents wholeness and 1000 is a high multiple of 10, completeness.
          2. The truth: God’s city is large enough for all believers – John 14:2.
          3. The wall: a multiple of 144, not 72 meters – Revelation 21:17
        5. The Streets: pure gold, like transparent glass – Revelation 21:21
        6. The Sanctuary: there is no Temple in it
          1. The Lamb is the temple – Revelation 21:22
          2. There will be no need for sacrifices or intercession
        7. Divine light
          1. No sun: its lamp is the Lamb – Revelation 21:23
          2. No night – Revelation 21:25, 22:5
            1. Darkness in the ancient world was a monster
            2. Darkness can be spiritual as well – Revelation 21:24, 26
    3. The Garden: Provision from God – Revelation 22:1-5
      1. Water of life from the throne – Revelation 22:1, Genesis 2:10
      2. Symbolism of perfect enjoyment and supply of needs
        1. Water – Revelation 22:1 – from the throne
        2. Food – Revelation 22:2a – from the fruit of the trees
        3. Health – Revelation 22:2b – from the leaves of the trees
      3. Saints will serve God forever – Revelation 22:3
      4. Saints will see his face – Revelation 22:4, Psalm 17:15, Exodus 33:20
  3. The epilogue – Revelation 22:6-21
    1. The challenge of the city
      1. We must keep God’s Word – Revelation 22:6-11, 18-19
      2. We are responsible to serve the Lord – Revelation 22:12-14
      3. We must keep our lives clean – Revelation 22:15-16
      4. We must expect Christ’s return – Revelation 22:17, 20-21
    2. The authenticity of the prophet
      1. John’s words are linked with the prophets – Revelation 22:6
      2. Blessed to keep the words of the prophecy – Revelation 22:7
      3. It is not just anyone’s message, but Jesus’ message – Revelation 22:16
    3. The end is near – Revelation 22:7-14
      1. He is coming quickly – Revelation 22:7, 12, 20
      2. The seer falls down to worship the angel – Revelation 22:8-9 included as sort of a personal testimony to the churches
      3. Instruction to meet immediate needs – Revelation 22:10-11
        1. Don’t seal the book: it is for their time, not for some distant generation – Revelation 22:10
        2. When Christ comes, there will be no more opportunity for a man to change his destiny – Revelation 22:11, and the end is so close there is no time to change men’s behavioral patterns.
      4. One must be prepared to enter – Revelation 22:14
    4. There is an invitation to enter – Revelation 22:17
    5. Warnings – Revelation 22:18-19
      1. Don’t add to the prophecy
      2. Don’t take away from the prophecy
    6. Come to your persecuted people with grace – Revelation 22:20-21

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