The Final Destinies of the City of God and the Earthly City – part 2

Since the beginning of the commingled history of these two cities, God has judged the citizenry – beginning with Adam and Eve. This continual judgment could have been avoided had the citizens adhered to the word of God. But alas, we have human weakness and a proclivity towards self-indulgence:

…no man acts rightly save by the assistance of divine aid; and no man or devil acts unrighteously save by the permission of the divine and most just judgment. – St. Augustine

‘For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jer. 29:11 AMP

God’s plan is bigger than we can fully comprehend. We see some good people live difficult lives while we also witness many of dubious character live lives of wealthy excess with a continual satiation of sinful appetites – where it seems that no apparent penalty is being applied. 

In spite of what looks like an unresolved imbalance, (which somehow fits into God’s design), at the end of all present things, God has wondrous things in store for His children in the city of God, of whom all receive His promised eternal rewards:

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to HIs plan and purpose. Rm. 8:28 AMP

So, regardless of our difficulties in this earthly life, we must do our best to stay on Jehovah’s path:

…in these days of vanity it makes an important difference whether he resists or yields to the truth, and whether he is destitute of true piety of a partaker of it – important not so far as regards the acquirement of the blessings or the evasion of the calamities of this transitory and vain life, but in connection with the future judgment which shall make over to good men good things, and to bad men band things…For whosever has real existence is this, is a keeper of God’s commandments; and he who is not this, is nothing. For so long as he means in the likeness of vanity, he is not renewed in the image of the truth… – St. Augustine

When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments, of this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, every hidden and secret thing, whether it is good or evil. Eccl. 12:13, 14. AMP

To better understand that end, we must visit the events in the book of Revelation. Accordingly, however you view the concept of the ‘rapture,’ there will be a time when many of God’s children will be sequestered from the tumultuous events during the tribulations. In addition, there will be some holdouts that come to salvation through Christ as that time.

Thus, the city of God, (which we must remember is also the ‘kingdom of God’, exists in the present, but has its full realization at the end of time), is co-existing with the city of the earth during the tribulations. 

The resurrection of the ‘two witnesses’ signals the end of the tribulations, and the last chance for any of the city of the earth to change citizenship is then lost…

Following will be the ‘first resurrection,’ that is when the elders, the dead and still living saints, the Jewish converts to Christ, the ‘great multitude’ and the two witnesses come to reign with Christ on the earth for 1000 years

Note that nations are still existing on the earth (those unbelievers that managed to escape death during the tribulations – still having babies). All other dead unbelievers will stay dead during this ‘millennium.’  So, in effect, the city of God is again co-habituating this earth with the living remnant of the citizens of the city of the earth, all of whom are existing in their ‘soul state.’

During this 1000-year period, remember that the devil is bound up with the rebel angels in the abyss. (Rv. 20:1-3). And so, he has no direct influence in this time.

Thus, all without exception, were dead in sins, whether original or voluntary sins, sins of ignorance, or sins committed against knowledge; and for all the dead there died the only person who lived, that is, who had no sin whatever, in order that those who live by the remission of their sins should live, not to themselves, but to Him who died for all, for our sins, and rose again for our justification, that we believing in Him who justifies the ungodly, and being justified from ungodliness or quickened from death, may be able to attain to the first resurrection which now is. 

For in this first resurrection none have a part save those who shall be eternally blessed; but in the second, of which He goes on to speak, all, as we shall learn, have a part, both the blessed and the wretched. The one is the resurrection of mercy, the other of judgment. – St. Augustine (see Jn. 5:28,29.)

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love… Col. 1:13 NKJV

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such, the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Rv. 20:6 NKJV

After the 1000 years have elapsed, the devil is loosed, whereupon he seduces those outside of the church to make war against Christ and His followers. Thank God, the devil and his minions lose this final battle in a big way and are devoured by divine fire.

We have now come to the end of time, the day of the LORD, judgment day. Those citizens of the now eternal city of God are not subject to a ‘second resurrection,’ but enter into their eternal promise with their new immortal, incorruptible bodies, living on a new earth, resting in new heavens, in the city of God, New Jerusalem, which has come down from heaven.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not come to mind. Be glad and rejoice in whatever I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” Is. 65:17 – 19. NKJV

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed like a bride adorned for her husband; and then I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “See! The tabernacle of God is among men, and He will live among them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them [as their God,] and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Rv. 21:2 – 5. AMP

Now they themselves, when they have been purified, shall be sacrifices of complete and perfect righteousness; for what more acceptable offering can such persons make to God than themselves? – St. Augustine

Unfortunately, those who have steadfastly rejected the Father and the Son, are resurrected for a second time – to judgment, damned to the ‘second death.’ They do not get incorruptible bodies, but rise with bodies that are changed in such a way that they cannot truly die, but must suffer eternal anguish:

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, will remain before me” – this is the LORD’s declaration – “so you offspring and your name will remain. All mankind will come to worship me…they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me; for their worm will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind.” Is. 66:22 – 24. CSB

Yes, this is the final judgment, where everyone meets Jesus:

For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment [that is, the prerogative of judging] to the Son [placing it entirely into His hands]… Jn. 5:22 AMP

It is at this point that the two cities are finally separated into two distinct final destinies: the city of God to heaven on earth, and the city of earth (now the city of the devil), to Satan’s damnation. How does that look? We’ll take a look see next time…

Goodnight and God bless. 

The Book of Revelation Revisited 11: Eternal Bliss

The Millennium:

Last time, we saw that Jesus was triumphant in the battle of Armageddon, and that Satan was bound in a bottomless pit for 1000 years. (Rv. 20:1 – 3.)

As you would expect, there are varying biblical scholarly interpretations of the meaning to this last interval before the end of time.

Some see the Millennium as a symbolic time span, representing the space between the first and the second coming of Christ. I disagree with this viewpoint, as it would invalidate the entire book of Revelation up to this point.

Others believe this will be a literal 1000 years – a time of great peace as Christ comes back to preach the gospel again.

Still others subscribe to a more literal application of the scriptures, (what a concept), maintaining that Jesus physically returns to the earth and rules over it, along with the resurrected saints. We have seen that the devil is taken out of the earth realm for 1000 years, so his influence can no longer hold sway over the inhabitants of this new realm.

Nations are still existing on this earth, so we can also infer that they would be populated by some unbelievers who were not part of Satan’s army and who managed not to get killed in the second half of the tribulations. It is here where the apostle John’s vision continues:

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image ad had not received its mark on their foreheads or on their hands. The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rv. 20:4 – 6. ESV

Thus, Jesus reigns with the elders, (Mt. 29:28; Lk. 22:30); and the saints (the church and the martyrs who came to accept Christ during the tribulations (Dan. 7:22; 1 Cor. 6:2) for 1000 years. The ‘first resurrection would include the dead saints (1 Thess. 4:16), the raptured of the living church (1 Thess. 4:17), the 144,000 Jewish converts (Rv. 14:1 – 5), the great multitude (Rv. 15:1 – 3), and the ‘two witnesses.’ (Rv. 11:12)

The rest of the dead consist of the wicked that rebelled against God until the very end.

During the Millennium, the world is a changed place. (Is. 65:17- 25; Ezek. 40:1 – 48:35.) It has to be because it was not fit to live on after the final seven judgments of God were released.

Earth is now the physical kingdom of Christ – a place where all of the troubles of the saints will be removed and forgotten, a realm of perpetual joy. They will also have direct communication with the Father and the Son, like returning to the Garden of Eden, where even the animals revert to their original vegetarian state.

There will also be people present who are not saints, still having children, still growing old and dying, and still persisting in sin – even though Christ is in their midst and the devil is not…

The devil takes his last shot:

John’s vision remains focused earthward, but now shifts forward in time to the ‘post-millennial period:

When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the the four corners of the earth, God and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they come up on the broad plain of the earth and surround the camp of the earth and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rv. 20:7 – 10. NASB

Think about this! Christ Himself is present reigning upon the earth. It’s a paradise where the saints are still doing God’s work – trying to bring unbelievers to salvation, those who still persist in rebellion. That is one merciful God! (2 Pt. 3:9)

But the devil does his dirty work all over again – even in paradise! ‘God and Magog’ are symbolic for Satan’s armies (new ones, because all the others the devil pre-millennially amassed, are dead). He and his armies surround the saints, who are living in a ‘restored’ millennial city of Jerusalem. Yet just as Satan was about to strike, God devours his armies with fire, and rids us of the devil forever. (2 Pt. 3:10)

Judgment Day:

The apostle John’s vision shifts heavenward and to the end of time:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was no place for them. Rv. 20:11 NKJV

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. this is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rv. 20:12 – 15. ESV

This is the ‘Day of the Lord,’ the end of history and time. The earth and the heavens above it are poised for a radical change. Christ is on the throne. The saints’ names are present in the book of life because they embraced His salvation. Their time in front of Christ’s judgment seat is only for determining the nature of their rewards in heaven, which reflect amount of their godly deeds on earth.

The unbelievers had a multitude of chances over many millennia to get straight with God, but they chose not to. They will be condemned at the judgment seat to the ‘second death,’ waiting for them alone…

A peek at eternity:

John’s vision now straddles both heaven and earth at the gates of eternity:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for their husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Rv. 21:1 – 4. NKJV

The earth, and the cosmos in which it is suspended, are completely transformed into an idyllic home for the saints. (Ps. 102:25 – 27; Is. 65:17 – 19; 2 Pt. 3:12, 13.) Some interpret the loss of the seas as literal; others view it as symbolic for the removal of evil (similar to the ‘symbolic sea’ that the satanic ‘beast’ arose from).

The ‘holy city’ is a city constructed in heaven – a place for the saints to dwell with God, in an environment free of sin and its collateral damage. God is finally completing His covenant with His children, communing with them in complete love, and blotting out all memories of pain, as He restores the immortal life of joy that He foresaw for them before they were physically created.

Now, for the first time in John’s stream of visions, God Himself speaks:

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be His God and he will be My son.” Rv. 21:5 – 7. NASB

God is telling us that His great plan is finished! It is His right to declare it so, because He is the Creative Author of the beginning and end of all things. In His plan’s culmination, He and His Son offer themselves (the ‘spring of the water of life’) freely to those who seek Their presence. Those who do, are the people that rose above the ways of the world to the best of their ability, through the strength imparted to them by their faith in God and His door to salvation (Jesus). Eternity is theirs for the taking. (Eph. 1:2 – 11.)

Not so for those who stubbornly stayed mired in the world:

“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters, and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Rv. 21:8 NASB

A great selling point to reveal to anyone who will hear your telling of the gospel. Note that the word ‘cowardly’ is not referring to one who was just fearful, but to one who did not take the risk of following Jesus in a hostile world.

At this point, John’s vision expands upon our heavenly outcome, adding to the previous description of the holy city of New Jerusalem. It will house the church. It’s enveloped by 20-story high walls with a total of 12 gates, each named for a tribe of Israel. The walls will rest upon 12 foundational stones named for each of the 12 apostles. Thus, the children of Israel and the Gentile church are now unified as one people of God.

The city is a 1500-mile cube with jewel-encrusted walls, gates formed of pearls, and streets paved with gold. There is no temple within the city because the entire city is the temple; and the saints all live there with God and Jesus, whose glory illuminates it.

The thrones of God and Jesus are in it, and the water of life flows from them. Also present is the Tree of Life, telling us that Man has come full circle – come home to a new Garden of Eden where the curse of Adam’s original sin is finally blotted out.

At this point, John’s vision of eschatological events come to an end…

It’s up to you:

Now, Jesus speaks directly to us through John:

“Behold, I (Jesus) am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to the merit of his deeds (earthly works, faithfulness). I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End {the Eternal One]” Rv. 22:12, 12. AMP

A divine reminder to continually be on the alert and ready for Jesus’ arrival. He’s bringing ‘rewards,’ (not salvation: He’s already provided that for His saints for their service to Him while they lived on earth). Jesus also reminds us of the ultimate authority in which He speaks, as the Alpha and the Omega, the deified Son of God – His Father’s very essence.

Finally, we hear an evangelic appeal from the Holy Spirit and the church, asking for Jesus to come, as well as making a plea to all who desire to come to Christ to claim their salvation:

The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, believers) say “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take and drink the water of life without cost. Rv. 22:17 AMP


Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 10: Armageddon

Last time we reviewed the ‘seven bowls’ of God’s final judgment upon the fallen earth. Then we were introduced to the ‘scarlet woman’ and the ‘scarlet beast.’

Continuing through the apostle John’s apocalyptic visions from Christ, he is now refocused backwards in time, so that we may learn how the devil has brought together ‘false religion,’ (symbolized by the scarlet woman and the scarlet beast), in cahoots with the corrupt world leaders and their armies, to conquer Christ and His army.

John’s vision remains earthward, but then shifts forward in time to the mid-tribulations period:

After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven…And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons… Rv. 18:1, 2. NKJV

Thus, God’s prophecy about the final destruction of the institute of false religion has come to fruition. (Rv. 14:8) Here, Jesus momentarily stops John’s visions, to warn us all about the dangers of associating with false religion:

“Come out of her, my people, so that you will not be a partner in her sins and receive her plagues…” Rv. 18:4 AMP

“And in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints, all who were slain on the earth.” Rv. 18:24 NKJV

The Scarlet Woman (Babylon) never thought she’d lose her power, yet it was felled in a single day. In addition, we see that it was the false religion’s teachings (the worldly ways that were opposed to God), that led to the death of all those who put their faith in them.

John’s vision resumes – now focused heavenward and slightly forward in time to the beginning of the second half of the tribulation. He sees heaven rejoicing over the fall of Babylon:

Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” Rv. 19:6, 7. NASB

And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Rv. 19:8 NKJV

The celebration is over the destruction of false religion and expresses the joyous anticipation of when the church (of all ages) is sealed forever as the ‘bride of Christ,’ through the righteousness that He has provided for all of God’s children.

John’s vision remains heavenward, but the time slides forward to the last day of the tribulations – to the battle of Armageddon:

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God. Rv. 19:11 – 13. NKJV

The ‘Word of God,’ gives His identity away. (Jn. 1:10) It is Jesus Christ Himself, preparing for battle on our behalf. He carries a name that is above all names. (Phil. 2:9) His robe is dipped in atoning blood, not the blood of His enemies, because He hasn’t gone to battle yet.

And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Rv. 19:14 – 16. NASB

The army clothed in the white linen is the bride of Christ!

John’s vision turns earthward:

And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet…These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword that proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. Rv. 19:19 – 21. NKJV

So, Christ vanquished all of His foes (with the exception of the devil), with the sword coming out of His mouth; i.e. His victory came only by His speaking the word of God. That’s righteous power! And He did it all for you.

Immediately after Jesus’ victory:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound Him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, shut him in, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations nor more until the thousand years were finished. But after these things, he must be released for a little while. Rv. 20:1 – 3. NKJV

Stay with me. Next, we visit the end of time…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 9: Woe to the wicked

The apostle John’s vision changes its view again – now heavenward, but the timeframe remains at the beginning of the second half of the tribulations:

After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues… Rv. 15:5, 6. NKJV

Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven bowls full of the wrath of God…And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God…and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues were completed. Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying…”Go and pour out the bowls of wrath upon the earth.” Rv. 15:7 – 16:1. NKJV

So, we see that there is a temple in heaven; and we see that God is inaccessible to anyone during the dispersal of His final judgments. Those who are still on the earth at this time, have no escape.

John’s vision expands to straddle both heaven and earth. We get to see the emptying of the bowls, which are God’s final judgments on those who steadfastly rejected Him.

The first bowl produced painful sores over the entire bodies of those who worshiped Satan’s beast. The second bowl pollutes all of the oceans, thus destroying all marine life. The third purifies all the fresh water on earth. The fourth bowl alters the sun – magnifying its heat so that people were literally being burned. Yet they still cursed God.

The fifth bowl is directed at the throne of the beast and his kingdom. It causes great pain to fall upon the devil’s followers and it envelopes this same throne in perpetual darkness. The sixth bowl dries up a section of the Euphrates River, so that the army from the east can cross over to attempt to engage Christ and His Father at the battle of Armageddon. At this point, the dragon, the beast and the false prophet send out demonic spirits to convince the world leaders of other nations to combine their armies with them in this battle on the final day of the tribulations.

Jesus momentarily halts John’s vision to address him directly – imparting a warning for all of us:

“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” Rv. 16:15 NKJV

Christ is urging us to stay alert and to behave as righteously as possible until He returns.

Jesus restarts John’s vision, where he sees Satan’s armies gather at the valley of Megiddo in Israel to do battle. In heaven, the last bowl (the seventh judgment) is poured upon the earth:

And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been seen since man was on the earth…The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of His wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people… Rv. 16:18 – 21. ESV

The city is Jerusalem, the headquarters of Satan’s false religion (i.e. Babylon). The seventh bowl brings cataclysmic destruction upon the earth, completely changing its surface.

At this point, an angel takes John, (in his vision), earthward and backward in time to show him more of the parts the devil has played in the downfall of man:

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked to me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

So he carried me away the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornications. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. Rv. 17:1 – 6. NKJV

In the Bible, when the word ‘fornication’ is not referring to sex out of wedlock, it always refers to idolatry, i.e. false religion. It is an institution that perverts the word of God to bring glory to itself. This scripture tells us that all of the earthly governments conspire with false religion to control its constituents.

We see that the ‘harlot’ (false religious institution) has grown wealthy from her association with the world and is literally astride (being supported by) Satan’s beast. So, it is fitting that she bears the cup full of ‘abominations’ (idolatry and all of its related practices).

The names on the woman’s forehead are also revealing. ‘Mystery’ is from the Greek mustering, meaning a ‘secret’ or ‘mystery’ – associated with the silence often imposed in the initiation of shady religious rites. It suggests the occult. ‘Babylon the Great’ (when not referring to the ancient empire that conquered Judah), is always used in the Bible to represent an institution of false religion.

The ‘mother of harlots’ depicts false religion as the pinnacle of earthly evil; and the ‘mother of the abominations of the earth’ tell us that false religion stands for everything that is against God. Finally, we see that false religion is responsible for the deaths of the saints throughout history.

The angel speaks again:

“…I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. The beast you saw was, and is not, and is about to come out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.” Rv. 17:7, 8. NASB

The beast was and then was not (is mortally wounded), and it will supposedly come back to life. He will then go to his destruction, because his time on earth is short. Until then, he will deceive all of the people who reject Jesus, i.e. those whose names are not found in the book of life.

The angel gives John further clarification:

“This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of which have fallen, one is, the other is yet to come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth, but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction.” Rv. 17:9 – 11. ESV

Some interpret the symbolic mountains to be ancient Rome, other see it as the papacy, and still others believe them to represent all of the kingdoms that will rise up  against God’s children.

There is yet another interpretation that references the events that were happening in the world about the time John received his vision (90 A.D.). This interpretation says that the seven mountains represent certain world empires: the first five being those that have already fallen – Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persian and Greek. The kingdom that ‘is’ would be the Roman empire during John’s time on the earth; and there hasn’t been a world empire since.

The seventh empire will be that of Satan’s world system (the beast), and the eighth is a representative of the seventh – the Antichrist, who uses false religion to bring himself to power until the time of the mid-tribulations, whereupon he declares himself to be God.

The angel continues to speak:

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is the Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called chosen and faithful.” Rv. 17:12 – 14. NKJV

The ten horns are ten nations that give their alliance to the Antichrist – promising to stand with him in battle, against the Son of God. ‘One hour’ means that this alliance will be short-lived.

And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry his purpose of being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth. Rv. 17:15 – 18. ESV

When the Antichrist declares himself to be God, he will destroy the institution of false religion, because it cannot support his claim of divinity and keep itself relevant. Until that time, false religion will reign supreme over the world systems.

The ‘city’ is the false religion institution (in whatever form that is going to take).

It’s interesting to note that God uses the devil’s own devices to wipe out false religion. The plot thickens…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 8: Last Chance

Last time, the apostle John had just finished relating an earthward-focused portion of his vision, regarding the mid-tribulation completion of the devil’s plan for world dominance. Still in the mid-tribulation period, John’s vision shifts heavenward:

Then I looked, and behold the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads…And they sang a new song before the throne before the living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. Rv. 14:1 & 3. NASB

Some interpret this group to be the remnant of the Jews in Israel who finally accept Jesus as their Messiah. Thus, they were subsequently sealed in the name of God and His Son. We see that they are now with Jesus in heaven. This event leads many interpreters to conclude that it is one of three ‘raptures’ – the other two being for the church and for the ‘great multitude.’ These ‘saved’ Jews are now able to sing a new song that only the redeemed can sing.

Still in the mid-tribulation time period, John’s vision shifts earthward again:

Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to preach to the inhabitants of the earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God [with awe and reverence], and give Him glory [and honor and praise in worship], because the hour of His judgment has come…” Rv. 14:6, 7. AMP

Mind you, this is happening before God’s final judgments are thrust upon the earth. If you adhere to the ‘rapture’ concept, you see that God is still reaching out in love to His lost creations. The church has risen to heaven and the remnant of Israel has as well. Still, God is pleading with the doubters left behind, through an angel, telling them that they must recognize Him as the only true God, and turn away from Satan and his minions.

John’s vision remains focused on the earth, but it now moves forward in time to the beginning of the second half of the tribulations:

Then another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her immorality [corrupting them with idolatry].” Rv. 14:8 AMP

‘Babylon’ is the world’s ‘false religion system” – a product of the devil himself. God is letting the stragglers know that the ultimate outcome for Satan and his designs, is one of defeat. So, in HIs great mercy, God is sending these holdouts a stern warning about sidling up with the fire and brimstone crew.

John’s vision is still fixed upon the earth, but it shifts backwards in time to the mid-tribulations period once more:

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice,”If anyone worships the beast and its images and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will bring the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength…and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur…forever and ever…” Rv. 14:9 – 11. ESV

It is certain that the outcome for lining up with the devil is not a good one. Also, as much as some people don’t want to believe in a literal hell, this scripture sure makes a strong case for one. So, what’s happening here is that God is telling them that He doesn’t want them to share in Satan’s final misfortune:

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice in heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Rv. 14:12, 13. ESV

God is calling upon His children who accepted Him through Christ, during the first half of the tribulation period – encouraging them to stand firm in their faith, because their redemption is guaranteed. He is also comforting those whose martyrdom is imminent, assuring them that they will be translated into His arms.

John’s vision then shifts both heavenward and forward in time to the end of the tribulations:

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle…the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. Rv. 14:14 – 17 & 19. NKJV

And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles. Rv. 14:20 NASB

What we see first is Jesus, reaping the harvest of the surviving children of God who’ve escaped being martyred. (Mt. 13:24 – 33.) Secondly, we view an angel gathering the unbelievers.

This is actually a preview of the time that follows Armageddon – the last battle where Christ and His army will stand again the army of the ‘east’ and army of the Antichrist. There will be such destruction that it will leave a swath of blood from Satan’s armies that is 200 miles long and 4 feet deep.

The apostle’s vision remains focused heavenward, but shifts backwards to the time of the second half of the tribulations:

Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have victory over the beast. over his image, and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb… Rv. 15:1 – 3. NKJV

God is gathering these seven angels to descend upon the earth to deliver His final judgments upon the unbelievers. But before He unleashes them, God ‘raptures’ up the ‘great multitude,’ the people from all over the world who came to Christ during the tribulations. This must have taken place after the mid-tribulations period, because we can see that they’ve already faced the devil and his minions and managed to cling to their faith. And when they get to heaven, they are jubilant…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 7: Antichrist

We’re in the middle of John’s vision of the earth at the latter half of the tribulation period. The devil and his rebel angels have been kicked out of heaven. Because of God’s intervention, Satan has been unsuccessful in trying to kill Jesus, or the last remnant of Israel, who call Christ their Messiah. So, he turns his wrath towards the Gentiles who came to faith during the tribulations:

Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his head a blasphemous name. Now the beast I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him power, his throne, and great authority. Rv. 13:1, 2. NKJV

With the ten heads and horns, the beast is a mirror image of Satan. His crowns represent ten nations that the devil will assemble, to build a world empire to rival all that came before. The physical description of the beast is a composite of four beasts the prophet Daniel saw in a vision. (Dan. 7:2 – 8.) Daniel also prophesied about the coming of this future empire. (Dan. Ch. 2)

Biblical scholars see Satan’s beast(s) as symbolizing a world empire, an antichrist, and a false prophet. Many see the dragon, the Antichrist, and the false prophet as a perverse imitation of the Godhead.

John continues:

I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast and who is able to wage war with him?” Rv. 13:3, 4. NASB

The beast represents a new world system – one that has suffered death and has been resurrected (insinuating something homologous to the resurrection of Christ). All ‘God-rejecters’ who survived the first half of the tribulations will fall under the sway of this satanic world order.

And the beast was given a mouth (the power of speech), uttering great things and arrogant and blasphemous words, and he was given freedom and authority to act and to do as he pleased for forty-two months (three and a half years). And he opened his mouth to speak blasphemies (abusive speech, slander) against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and those who live in heaven. He was also permitted to wage war against the saints (God’s people) and to overcome them, and authority and power over every tribe and people and language and nation. All the inhabitants of the earth will fall down and worship him, everyone whose name has not been written down since the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who has been slain [as a willing sacrifice]. Rv. 13:5 – 8. AMP

So, the beast gets a ‘mouthpiece’ – the Antichrist. This is also described in another vision of the prophet Daniel (Dan. 9:26, 27.), whereby he describes the Antichrist as a ‘little horn.’ Many interpret the vision of Daniel to mean that the Antichrist will first come as a ‘man of peace’ (after God has destroyed the ‘army of the north,’ that came against Israel), and that he will strike a peace accord with Israel.

However, at the tribulation midpoint, he breaks that accord and wages war against the followers of Christ – even forbidding any worship of God in the new temple in Jerusalem. Moreover, the Antichrist will demand worship for himself, declaring that he is God. Many of the saints are martyred at this time. (Rv. 12:10 – 12.)

However, because of the saints’ steadfast endurance for Christ, their eternal outcome will be one of triumph over Satan and his minions.

Finally, we see that those who do worship the Antichrist, will not find their names in the Lamb’s book of life – meaning that they have no heavenly hope.

John resumes the telling of his vision:

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the whole earth and those who dwell on it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs so that he even makes fire come from heaven on earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image of the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. Rv. 13:11 – 14. NKJV

Here then is the manifestation of the second beast (the false prophet) – one who appears meek and pious, but his dragon-speech reveals his evil character to those who can discern his true nature. Satan gives power to the false prophet to manifest miracles in the name of the Antichrist, in order to prop up the Antichrist’s claim of divinity. Lastly, the false prophet commands that an idol be made in the image of the Antichrist’s so that the people could worship it. [This was previously foretold by the apostle Paul (2 Thess. 2:9 – 12.), where we learned that God allowed this deception to take place because of the people’s steadfast rejection of His salvation.]

John elaborates further about the false prophet:

And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both great and small, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast, or the number of the beast, for it is the number of man, and his number is 666. Rv. 13:15 – 18. ESV

Thus, the false prophet animates the statue of the Antichrist. It must be some form of an elaborated illusion, because only God can create life. If one is not convinced by the illusion to worship the idol, that same one will be killed.

We also see the false prophet promote the ‘mark of the beast,’ one required to having indelibly placed upon their person in order to buy or sell anything. Note: no one really knows what ‘666’ means except that it is the number of man. But because ‘sevens’ are the biblical number for ‘completeness,’ it suggests incompleteness.

Ultimately then, what we are seeing is the establishment of the complete satanic world system: the Antichrist is directing the political and economic landscape, and the false prophet is controlling religion; and all of this is being orchestrated by the devil himself. The plot thickens…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 6: Satan Attacks

We had just looked at the six soundings of angelic ‘trumpets’ that revealed partial disasters that God will bring upon the earth, to attempt to motivate those stubborn non-believers to, in fact, believe in Him and then repent. The partiality of the destruction shows God’s restraint in this final act of love – it is a preview of the total disasters that will strike those who persist in rebellion. He is, in essence, pleading with them.

The sounding of the seventh trumpet signals that God’s clemency has expired. At this juncture, the apostle John’s vision shifts heavenward, and towards future events after the tribulation period:

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” Rv. 11:15 NASB

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His convent was seen in His temple. And there were thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. Rv. 11:19 NKJV

Thus, the seventh trumpet heralds the victory of God and Christ over the forces of Satan.

Next, Jesus reveals the details of how this triumph will be accomplished. He is bringing the ‘big picture’ together; and to do this, He shifts John’s vision earthward in place and backwards in time:

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seen heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Rv. 12:1 – 5. NKJV

The Child is Jesus; and the dragon is Satan. The description of the woman who bore Jesus is drawn from the Old Testament’ – from Joseph’s vision that He received from God, which revealed that he would rule over his family. (Gn. 37:9, 10.) The twelve stars symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel.

Some Bible interpreters see the pregnant woman as symbolism for the remnant of Israel who ultimately come to Christ. The seven heads of the dragon have been said to represent vast intelligence, the horns: power and strength, the diadems: the princely status of the devil in the world, the third of the stars: demons / rebellious angels. (Rv. 12:7 – 9, below.)

Continuing with this vision, the devil did indeed try to kill the infant Christ through King Herod. (Mt. 2:12 – 23.) Next, we see that God gives His Son reign over the world, (when God brings an end to all of man’s governments), and Jesus will rule with a firm hand (‘rod of iron). But before that can happen, God must remove Christ from the earth, (Jesus’ ascension to His Father), away from the designs of the devil.

John’s vision stays earth-focused but shifts forward in time to the second half of the tribulations:

Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared for her by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Rv. 12:6 NKJV

Some interpret this to be symbolic of God’s provision for the remnant of Israel (‘the woman), who have accepted Christ as their Messiah, so that they are divinely hidden from the wrath of Satan at this time. Others believe the woman is the witnessing church of Christ.

The apostle’s vision now shifts heavenward, and, some believing to the time of Jesus’ ascension, others to the time of Adam and Eve, and still a third group to the beginning of the tribulations, basing their beliefs on scripture from the book of Daniel. (12:21):

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rv. 12;7 – 9. ESV

[I think we can eliminate the Adam and Eve time-frame consideration, because the book of Job tells us that Satan still had free reign to travel back and forth from heaven to earth with impunity 1:6, 7.)]

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ has come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before out ‘God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice O heavens and you who dwell in them.

Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he only has a short time. Rv. 12:10 – 12. NASB

Michael was an archangel (an angel of high rank – also mentioned in Dan. 10:13, where he is specified as a warrior and advocate for Israel). The devil has been kicked out of the clouds and now has some major anger issues. The saints at this time, overcome the devil by their faith in the cleansing blood of Christ, and by their public testimony of the same – even in the face of death.

John’s vision moves forward in time to the middle of the tribulations:

Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for at time and times and a half of time, from the presence of the serpent. Rv. 12:13, 14. NKJV

For some, this again refers to the remnant of Israel that is divinely hidden from Satan during the last half (3 1/2 years) of the tribulations. Other believe it indicates the witnessing church.

Satan attacks:

So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth to swallow up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman; and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. And he stood on the sand and the sea. Rv. 12:15 – 17. NKJV

Some view the ‘flood’ to represent a mass of anti-Christian opposition from Satan’s followers; others see it as a symbol of all the lies and deceits the devil hurls against God’s children. The ‘swallowing earth is believed to symbolize God protecting Israel:

When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him. Is. 59:19 NKJV

So, because the devil was unsuccessful at trying to kill Jesus, or the remnant of Israel, he now vigorously pursues the Gentiles who came to faith during the tribulations. In that pursuit, Satan employs the assistance of the ‘beast.’

Next time…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 5: Seven Trumpets

We left off where Jesus had let loose the seventh and final seal of the scroll that describes God’s final redemptive plan for man. The ‘seals’ were an overview of the wrath of God, coming for those that rebel against Him. The seventh seal was an introductory vision about the coming ‘judgments of the trumpets,’ which describe that actual advent of partial disasters that are coming (‘partial,’ because God is still trying to get as many people to come to repentance and salvation as possible.

The first trumpet tells of a disaster whereupon one third of the earth is burned because of heavenly-induced hail, fire and blood. The second depicts a burning mountain cast into the sea – killing one third of all marine life and ocean-going vessels and defiling the sea with blood. (Some have interpreted the first and the second trumpets as extreme volcanic destruction.)

The third suggests a meteor strike which pollutes one third of the world’s fresh water supply. (Some have interpreted this to be collateral damage from warfare.) The fourth calls for the loss of light from a third of the sun, moon and stars – resulting in utter darkness for a third of a day and a night. (Foretold by the prophet Amos – 8:9.)

After the fifth trumpet blows, John says:

…I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. Rv. 9:1 ESV

Some interpret this to represent a ‘good angel,’ others say it corroborates with Jesus, when He described the star as Satan being can out of heaven. (Lk. 10:18)

When the pit is opened, locusts resembling horses dressed for battle, having faces like men, long hair, teeth like lions, breastplates of iron, tails like scorpions and wings that roar, are released. Some have interpreted the locusts to being demons, others see them as rebel angels that sided with Satan, and finally there are those who understand them to be one and the same.

However, demonic activity has been going on ever since Satan was cast from heaven; but the Bible tells us that the rebel angels have been imprisoned since that time. (Jude 6)

Nevertheless, these rebel angels / demons / locusts are allowed to torment the unbelievers (not possessing the seal of God on them) with a vicious sting for 5 months. As a side note, these demons are commanded to refrain from harming any plant life; thus, these judgments are not sequential but are somewhat simultaneous in their occurrence.

When the sixth trumpet sounds, four ‘bound’ angels (we are not told why they are shackled, but it suggests that they are malevolent) are unbound, so they may lead a demonic army of two hundred million to kill a third of mankind. This represents an army ‘from the east,’ separate from the one from the north that attempted to defeat Israel but was decimated by God. Some interpreters deduce that this eastern army comes from Asia, as it is the only region that could muster one of this size.

They too are on the march to Israel, but their intent is to fight the final battle of Armageddon. It is believed that this army kills a third of mankind while on that march.

The sixth trumpet is mankind’s last warning! There will be no salvation made available to anyone once the seventh trumpet sounds. Still, there will be hard-hearted hold-outs:

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent even then of the works of their hands, so as to cease worshiping and paying homage to the demons and idols…and they did not repent of their murders nor their sorceries (drugs, intoxications) nor of their sexual immorality or of their thefts. Rv. 9:20, 21. AMP

Just as there was a ‘heavenly interlude’ just prior to the unveiling of the seventh seal, there is a second interlude that precedes the sounding of the seventh trumpet. John’s vision shifts earthward, whereupon he sees a great angel (who some interpret to be Christ), holding a scroll and calls out heavenward, declaring an oath to God:

…there would be delay no longer, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets. Rv. 10:6, 7. NASB

Thus, the culmination of everything that God has been revealing throughout history, will begin to manifest at that sounding of the seventh trumpet.

The angel tells John that he must continue to preach the gospel; and then it assigns him a new task:

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God, and the alter and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.” Rv. 11:1, 2. ESV

Forty-two months (3 1/2 years – according to the Jewish calendar of 30-day months) represents the second half of the tribulation period. The measuring rod is generally interpreted to symbolize God’s protection. The temple is seen by some to represent the body of Christ, and the ’trampling of the holy city’ being the persecutions set against that body during the tribulations.

Others interpret this scripture to refer to a literal ‘new temple’ that will be built in Jerusalem during the first half of the tribulationsafter God delivers Israel from the ‘army of the north,’ which leads to Israel accepting Christ as their Messiah. These interpreters look to Ezek. 4:11 as the foundation of this interpretation.

Continuing on in this second interlude, Jesus brings additional revelation:

“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophecy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouths and consumes their foes…They have the power…to strike the earth with every kind of plague… Rv. 11:3 – 6. ESV

The wearing of sackcloth by the witnesses, signify a last call to the unbelievers to repent. Some interpret the witnesses as symbolic of the ‘witnessing church,’ either during the present age or in the last half of the tribulations; and others see them as literal prophets of great power, but their identities cannot be resolved with certainty.

Jesus continues:

“And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt where there Lord was crucified.” Rv. 11:7, 8. ESV

Thus, we see that the two witnesses have been preaching in Jerusalem; but in the time of the second half of the tribulations, the conditions have degenerated so badly that it is now compared with an ancient city renowned for moral degradation and with a country infamous for its idolatry. We are also told that when the witnesses’ call for repentance is at an end, they are attacked by Satan’s ‘beast.’

And then:

For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. Rv. 11:9, 10. ESV

So, the world throws a party because these meddlesome prophets had been putting a damper on their immoral and pagan frenzy. Yet, there is a big surprise coming:

But after three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear and panic fell on those who were watching them. And the two witnesses heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they ascended into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. Rv. 11:11, 12. AMP

In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. in the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid  and gave glory to the God of heaven. Rv. 11:13 NKJV

The resurrection of the two witnesses makes the end of the tribulations. All chances for repentance and salvation are no longer available for the unbelievers.

Those who interpret the two witnesses as symbolic for the witnessing church, see their resurrection as symbolism for a ‘post-tribulation’ rapture of the martyred church – those who converted during the tribulations.

The interlude concludes, and the seventh trumpet is about to sound…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 4 – Seven Seals

The apostle John has just been spiritually transported to God’s heavenly throne room, where He is able to look upon our Creator. This is a major shifting point in the relationship between God and man, because heretofore, no one was allowed to look upon His face except His Son. (Ex. 33:20; Jn. 6:46.)

However, the glory of God’s countenance is so overwhelmingly magnificent that John cannot describe it other than as a stunning rainbow, emitting from incomparable jewels, with accompanying flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. (Rv. 4:3 & 5.) Surrounding God’s throne was 24 other thrones, occupied by 24 ‘church elders’ – consisting of the 12 apostles of Jesus and representatives for the 12 tribes of Israel. The elders were prostrate before Christ in worship, bringing forth the prayers of the saints. for His consideration. (Rv. 4:10, 11.)

John also sees the ‘seven Spirits of God, representing the Holy Spirit in His complete fullness.

Then, the apostle shifts his gaze to God’s right hand:

And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals?” Rv. 5:1, 2. NKJV

The scroll contains God’s final plan for redemption – the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is written on both sides and sealed, denoting its completeness. There will be no further additions.

To John’s amazement and relief, the ‘one who is worthy’ turns out to be the ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David – Jesus Christ who takes the scroll in the presence of the elders and of angels who worship Him:

“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God, and we shall reign on the earth.” Rv. 5:9, 10. NKJV

We see then that only the Son of God is worthy to carry out His Father’s plan for salvation. Christ is presented here as a ‘lion’ (especially to those who rejected Him), and as a ‘lamb’ (to those who have invited Him in their hearts. John further describes Jesus as having the appearance of a lamb who has been slain (to represent His death and resurrection); and having 7 horns and 7 eyes – symbolizing His divine power and complete amalgamation with the Holy Spirit.

Next, Jesus calls John to witness an overview of the nature of events which will unfold during the seven-year tribulation period. Jesus begins by opening the first four seals, which reveal the symbolic ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse. The first rider is interpreted by some to be the Antichrist (counterfeit christ), who is loosed upon the earth at the beginning of the tribulation.

The apostle Paul had also prophesied about this event:

…that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God… 2 Thess. 2:3, 4. NKJV

The ‘Day’ is the day of God’s wrath.

The second rider represents war – interpreted by some as a personification of a great ‘army from the north,’ said to be a coalition from countries that comprised the old Soviet Union and those populated by Islamic radicals.

The third rider signifies famine, and the fourth symbolic of death and disease.

When Jesus opens the fifth seal, John sees a vision of all who have been martyred for Christ, pleading for justice; but they are told to be patient a bit longer, so that our merciful God can use a little more time to gather in anyone who may yet choose Him.

The opening of the sixth seal reveals a preview of severe cosmological disturbances that will manifest when Christ returns to the earth.

Before the seventh seal is opened, we are privy to the first of three ‘interludes’ in heaven, where we can see the disposition of the saints during the various phases of John’s visions:

Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice…”Do not harm the earth, the sea or the trees till we have sealed the servants of God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed. 7:2 – 4. NKJV

What follows in a list of the 12 Jewish tribes of 12,000 each – all of which have been sealed by the angels. The ‘seal’ is the name of the Lamb and of God – the seal of salvation. (Rv. 14:1) Some interpreters see the 144,000 as a symbolic number of Jews who come to the realization the Christ is the Messiah, after they witness the rapture of the church of Christ, and watch God defeat the enemies of Israel in the final battle. Thus, like the church of Christ, the Jews are sealed as well. (Rm. 11:26)

John’s vision of the ‘interlude’ continues as he sees the appearance of an innumerable multitude of people from all over the world, dressed in white robes and worshiping the Lamb of God. (Rv. 7:9, 10.) One of the ‘elders’ explains who they are:

“These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore or thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Rv. 7:14 – 17. NKJV

Some interpret the multitude to be Gentiles from around the world that witness the rapture of the church, the defeat of Israel’s enemies by God, and the salvation of the Jews. In the face of all this, they too decide to embrace Christ. (Zech. 8:23)

This interpretation then, calls for an additional rapture, which occurs at mid-tribulation. It is another loving example of God’s mercy – giving His children a final chance to come to Him.

John’s vision shifts earthward to see how the inhabitants are faring at this time, and then it returns to Jehovah’ s throne room as Jesus opens the last of the seven seals:

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of the saints on the golden alter which was before the throne. Rv. 8:1 – 3. NASB

Then the angel took the censor, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. Rv. 8:5, 6. NKJV

The seventh seal reveals the ‘judgments of the trumpets,’ which herald the coming of the cataclysmic events of the tribulations. From this scripture, we can take comfort in knowing that the prayers of the saints are ever-present before God’s throne.

The censer that the angel threw to the earth contains the prayers of the saints calling for justice to be served upon their persecutors. God is answering them through His imminent judgments on the ungodly.

Next time…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 3 – Introduction to the Rapture

Immediately after the apostle John receives the messages for the seven churches in Asia, Jesus calls him up in the spirit, to the very throne room of God in heaven:

…I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a [war] trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Rv. 4:1 AMP

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. Rv. 4:2 NKJV

We see then that Revelation is now shifting its perspective to both a heavenward locale and towards future events.

This is one of the major scriptures cited as being symbolic of a ‘rapture’ of the church, whisking it away from the time of the ‘tribulations’ (God’s judgments of wrath), which lie in store for those on earth who have rejected Him. The word ‘rapture’ is not found in the Bible. The first description of this concept has been attributed to an evangelist in the early 1800s, who preached it.

“Rapture’ as it is used in biblical schools of thought, means to be ‘caught up’ or taken away,’ referring to when it is believed that Jesus will return and take God’s children out of harm’s way during the tribulations. How and when this rapture occurs, or not, depends upon who is doing the interpreting. The concept has been formulated from various scriptures. One is drawn from what Jesus said:

“…watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Lk. 21:34 – 36. ESV

Another is from the Holy Spirit-inspired apostle Paul:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the LORD.  1 Thess. 4:16, 17. NKJV

So, Jesus comes and gathers all of God’s children (both dead and alive) and swoops them up to heaven. Why does He do that?

For God has not destined us to [incur His] wrath [that is, He did not select us to condemn us], but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ… 1 Thess. 5:9 AMP

Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed]… 1 Cor. 15:51 AMP

Returning to the Revelation narrative, Jesus said this to the faithful church (of Philadelphia) in His previous address to the seven churches in Asia:

Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Rv. 3:10 NKJV

I understand this to mean that the children of God will not suffer the trials because we won’t be living on the earth.

There are three different interpretations regarding when this ‘rapture’ will take place. The first says that Rv. 4:1 – 2 (above) means that it will happen as a hidden event prior to Jesus’ globally public ‘second coming.’ The second interpretation is borne out by those who refer to Dan. 7:25, which they take to mean that the rapture will occur at the midway point of the 7-year tribulation period. Finally, there are others who look at another scripture spoken by Jesus, and believe it to mean that the rapture will occur after the tribulations are complete:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give up its light; the stars will fall from heaven and the power of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all of the tribes of the earth will mourn, and see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one heaven to the other. Mt. 24:29 – 31. NKJV

The important thing to understand, is that these are the best interpretations of the Holy Spirit – induced scriptures that man has to offer. What we can know with certainty, is that God will indeed rescue His children, through Christ, as some specific point in time and separate them from the stiff-necked unbelievers, whose outcome is thankfully not ours…

Goodnight and God bless.