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Showing posts from November, 2020

Epilogue - Revelation

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If anyone fails to keep the words of the book, he will be excluded from citizenship in the city of New Jerusalem  –  Revelation 22:6-21 .  The  Book of Revelation  concludes with an epilogue that recalls the earlier promises to “ overcoming saints ,” reiterates warnings against faithlessness, summons believers to render homage to God alone, and calls for Jesus to “ come quickly .” Testimony and assurances from uncontestable sources attest to the trustworthiness of the “ words of the book ,” which are “ prophecy ” and the “ testimony of Jesus .” - [ Photo by Thomas Kinto on Unsplash ].

New Jerusalem Inhabited

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New Jerusalem is populated fully in fulfillment of the covenant promise to Abraham to “bless all nations”  –  Revelation 21:24-22:5 . In the preceding section, “ New Jerusalem ” with its massive dimensions was  unveiled.  It will take far more than a tiny remnant of “ saints ” to populate it. Now, John sees the “ city ” populated with the “ innumerable multitude ” of the redeemed from every nation and ethnic group, including many from among the “ kings of the earth .” - [ Photo by  David Barajas  on Unsplash ].

New Jerusalem Unveiled

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The physical dimensions and shape of “New Jerusalem” are presented to show it is ready to be populated – Revelation 21:9-23 .  John caught a glimpse of “ New Jerusalem descending from heaven ,” but now, he sees it unveiled in all its glory. This next section concentrates on the city’s physical dimensions and shape.  Its enormous size staggers the human imagination, but sufficient room is necessary to contain the innumerable multitude destined to inhabit the “ holy city .” - [ Photo by Yalın Kaya on Unsplash ].

New Jerusalem Descends

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Following the final judgment, John saw the “holy city, New Jerusalem” descending from heaven to the earth  –  Revelation 21:1-8 .  The next paragraph presents “ New Jerusalem ” to the reader and concludes the  third literary division  of the book. Having witnessed the destruction of “ Babylon ,” the “ False Prophet ,” the “ beast ,” and the “ Dragon ,” John received the vision of what awaits the faithful at the end of the age – “ New Jerusalem descending from heaven to the earth .” - [ Photo by Solaiman Hossen on Unsplash ].

Armageddon - Final Battle

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The several “battle” scenes in Revelation all present the same final assault by Satan against the saints of the Lamb .  We tend to assume the visions of  Revelation  are presented in strict chronological sequence, an assumption that creates difficulties when we attempt to interpret the several battle scenes depicted in chapters 11, 12, 13, 16, 19, and 20. Do they portray different “final battles” that occur at different points in time, or is the same final battle presented from different aspects? - [ Photo by Jemima Whyles on Unsplash ].

Multiple Final Judgments?

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Each of the three sevenfold series in Revelation concludes with a final judgment scene at the end of the age .  Final judgment scenes occur several times in the  Book of Revelation . All three of the sevenfold series of “ seals ,” “ trumpets ,” and “ bowls of wrath ” culminate in the final judgment, and each time punctuated by terrestrial and celestial upheaval. Those “judgments” are in addition to the one at the “ Great White Throne of Judgement ” when the wicked are cast into the “ lake of fire ” - [ Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash ].

Gog and Magog

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Revelation identifies “Gog and Magog” as the nations from the “four corners of the Earth” that attack the “saints”  –  Revelation 20:7-10 .  The prophet Ezekiel received a vision of an invading army composed of regional nations that would attack Israel from the north, spearheaded by “ Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal ” - ( KJV ). But before destroying Israel, “ Gog ” and his forces would be destroyed by Yahweh “ on the mountains of Israel ” - [ Photo by Arpit Rastogi on Unsplash ].

Great White Throne

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Following the defeat of the “Dragon,” the final judgment unfolds at least before a Great White Throne  –  Revelation 20:11-15 .  Now, the “ Dragon ,” the “ False Prophet ,” the “ Beast from the Sea ,” and “ Babylon ” have all been judged. Their conspiracy against the “ Lamb ” and his followers only ended in their own demise. What they intended for evil the “ One Who Sits on the Throne ” employed to achieve His purposes - [ Photo by  Max Kukurudziak  on Unsplash ].

End of Satan

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Satan is released for a “short season” to launch his attack on the saints, but he is the one destroyed  –  Revelation 20:7-10 .  The time has come for Satan’s final demise. The book’s second literary division introduced the enemies of the “ Lamb ” - The “ Dragon ,”  Beast ,” “ False Prophet ,” and “ Babylon .” In the third division, their destruction occurs in reverse order – “ Babylon ,” “ Beast ” and “ False Prophet ” together, and finally, the “ Dragon ” - [ Photo by Narciso Arellano on Unsplash ].

Priestly Reign of the Saints

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In Revelation, victorious saints reign as a “kingdom of Priests” during the “thousand years,” having overcome the “beast.”   During the “ thousand years ,” Satan is imprisoned as the victorious saints begin to reign. Rather ironically, the “ rest of the dead ” do not live until the “ second death ” at the “ Great White Throne of Judgment .” The image of the saints reigning at this time is Daniel’s vision of the “ one like a Son of Man ” who received the “ kingdom ” from the “ Ancient of Days ” - [ Photo by  James Coleman  on  Unsplash ].

Imprisonment of Satan

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The Devil is imprisoned in the “Abyss” until the appointed time when he will be released and launch his final assault against the saints  –  Revelation 20:1-3 .  Next,  Revelation  presents Satan bound in the “ Abyss ” for the “ thousand years ” until his release at the end of the period. During his imprisonment, he is prevented from “ deceiving the nations ,” and only after his release will be free to do so. The passage includes verbal links to the expulsion of Satan from heaven in chapter 12 - [ Photo by Mike Hindle on Unsplash ].

Beast and Prophet Destroyed

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The Rider on the White Horse destroyed the “Beast from the sea” along with the “False Prophet,” the “Beast from the earth”  –  Revelation 19:17-21 .  Next, John saw the destruction of the “ beast from the sea ” and the “ False Prophet ” at the final battle when the “rider on the white horse” overthrew the forces of “ Gog and Magog .” The passage does not state where this occurred, other than on the earth. In focus is the destruction of the “ Beast ” and its vassals, and their consignment to the “ Lake of Fire ” - [ Photo by Jemima Whyles on Unsplash ].

Rider on a White Horse

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The Messiah “shepherds” the nations by the “word” that proceeds out of his mouth in preparation for the final battle  -  Revelation 19:11-16 .  The vision now anticipates the destruction of the “ beast ” and the “ False Prophet ” by introducing the warrior figure riding a “ white horse .” The groundwork for the coming “battle” was laid with the announcement of the victory of the “ Lamb ” over the “ beast ” and the “ kings of the earth ” in chapter 17 (For he is “ Lord of lords and King of kings ”) - [ Photo by Mita Park on Unsplash ].

Heaven Celebrates

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The celebration of heaven over the “wedding” of the “Lamb” follows the destruction of “Babylon, the Great Harlot”  –  Revelation 19:1-10 .  Next,  Revelation  presents the celebration of “ heaven ” over the demise of the “ Great City, Babylon .” A “ great voice ” of many people rings out in praise to God because He judged the “ Great Harlot ” that had seduced the “ nations ” and persecuted the “ saints ,” the “ servants ” of God. It is also the hour for the “ marriage ” of the “ Lamb ” to his bride, “ New Jerusalem ” - [ Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash ].

Babylon Destroyed

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The complete destruction of Babylon, especially her economic power is God’s response to her persecution of the “saints”  –  Revelation 18:9-24 .  Next,  Revelation  presents the detailed description of the destruction of the “ Great City ,” and the justification for this action. In part, her demise is caused by the hatred of the “ ten kings ” that are allied with the “ Beast ” and driven by God to desolate and “ burn her utterly with fire ” for her dominance of world commerce and her “ sorcery ” - [ Photo by Jonas Tebbe on Unsplash ].

Babylon is Fallen

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The fall of mystery Babylon is pronounced, and her ritual impurity exposed and denounced by an angel  –  Revelation 18:1-8 .  Next, John saw an angel descending from heaven, one who had “ great authority ” with which he pronounced the “ fall of Babylon ” and described her ritual pollution by demonic spirits. This was followed by a voice summoning the saints to separate themselves from the “ Harlot ,” otherwise, they would participate in her “ plagues ” - [ Photo by Antonio Sessa on Unsplash ].

Lamb Overcomes Babylon

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The Lamb overcomes the Beast and Babylon because he is the “Lord of lords, and King of kings”  –  Revelation 17:14-18 .  Next, John was provided with the interpretation of what he saw - “ Babylon ” is the “ great city ” that sways the political powers of the earth in alliance with the “ beast ,” and her persecution of the “ saints ” is an extension of the Dragon’s “ war ” against them. But Jesus overcomes the “ beast ” and “ Babylon ,” though he does so in unexpected and paradoxical ways - [ Victory - Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash ].

Babylon Rides the Beast

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Babylon, the “Great Harlot,” rides the Beast from the Sea with its seven heads and ten horns  –  Revelation 17:7-13 .  “ Babylon ” sits on the same malignant creature seen earlier “ ascending from the sea .” It was an amalgamation of the four “ beasts from the sea ” from  Daniel . Now, we discover the “lineage” of the “ beast ” and preview its destruction, all described with language from Daniel’s vision of the “ fourth beast ” and its “ little horn ” - [ Federal Reserve - Photo by  Etienne Martin  on Unsplash ].

Great Harlot Revealed

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Babylon is revealed as a bejeweled harlot dripping with the shed blood of martyred saints  –  Revelation 17:1-6 .  In chapter 17,  Revelation  presents the impressive figure of “ Babylon .” She is labeled “ harlot ” and identified as the “ great city ,” and she is responsible for the deaths of the martyrs. “ Babylon ” is also closely associated with the deceptions and economic power of the “ Beast .” In her, the book’s first audience would see the city of Rome - [ Trajan's Column - Photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash ].

Kings of the East

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The “Kings of the East” are identical to the “Kings of the Earth” that are allied with the “Beast from the Sea”  –  Revelation 16:12-19 .  The “ sixth bowl of wrath ” presents us with an image of an army led by the “ kings from the east ” crossing the Euphrates River. The picture is derived from prophecies of the overthrow of Babylon by the “ Medes and Persians .” Now, God is about to use a “pagan” force to destroy “ Babylon ,” only this time the attack is against end-time “ Babylon ” - [ Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash ].

Seventh Bowl of Wrath

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The seventh “bowl” produced the final overthrow of Babylon, the Great City, and completed the “wrath of God”  –  Revelation 16:17-21 .  The seventh “ bowl of wrath ” anticipates the fuller description of the destruction of end-time “ Babylon ” in chapters 17 and 18 of  Revelation . The Old Testament story behind it is the plague of hail inflicted on Egypt at the word of Moses. Emptying the bowl “ on the air ” prepared for the “ great hail ” that concluded this last “ plague ” - [ Photo by Stefano Zocca on Unsplash ].

Sixth Bowl - Armageddon

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The sixth “bowl of wrath” causes the final battle between the “Lamb” and the forces of the “Dragon”  –  Revelation 16:12-16 .   The first four “ bowls ” targeted the economic foundations of the beastly empire, and the fifth attacked its political power. When the sixth “ bowl ” is emptied, demonic forces gather the “ kings of the earth ” to the final battle of the “ Great Day of God the Almighty ” at “ Armageddon ,” the last desperate effort by Satan to unseat the “ Lamb .” - [ Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash ].

Fifth Bowl

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The first four “bowls” destroyed the economic structure of Babylon. The next “bowl” targets its political sphere  –  Revelation 16:10-11 . The first “ four bowls of wrath ” attacked the economic infrastructure of the empire used to dominate the “ inhabitants of the earth ” and to wage war on the “ saints ,” leaving the global commerce on which the “ beast ” depended destroyed. Now, the “ fifth bowl ” targets its political power and prestige - [ Roman ruins, Algeria - Photo by Jamil Kabar on Unsplash ].

First Four Bowls

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The first four bowls of wrath destroy the economic infrastructure of the kingdoms of the earth  –  Revelation 16:1-9 .  The “ seven bowls of wrath ” include language and imagery from the plagues of Egypt, the exodus, the defeat of Pharaoh in the Red Sea, and Ancient Babylon, only here, divine judgments are inflicted on the persecutors of God’s people, the “ beast from the sea ” and the “ great city ,” end-time “ Babylon .” - [ Photo by Sam Power on Unsplash ].

Tent of Testimony

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The destructive forces released by the “last plagues” echo the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea  –  Revelation 15:5-8 .  Having seen the saints standing victorious on the “ sea of glass ,” John then saw the “ sanctuary ” and the “ Tent of Witness ” opened in “ heaven ,” from which the seven angels with the “ bowls of wrath ” were dispatched to empty the deadly contents of their bowls upon the earth - [ Photo by  Patrick Schneider  on Unsplash ].

Song of the Lamb

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Having “overcome” the Beast, the saints stand on the Sea of Glass and sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb  –  Revelation 15:1-4 .  The fifteenth chapter introduces seven angels poised to empty the seven “ bowls of wrath .” But first, we see the picture of “ overcoming ” saints standing on the “ sea of glass ” and “ singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb .” This victorious company has overcome the “ beast, its image, mark, and number .” - [ Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash ].

Final Day and Hour

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Revelation moves inexorably from the Death and Resurrection of Jesus to the final day when God judges the wicked and vindicates the righteous .  At the conclusion of his ‘Olivet Discourse,’ Jesus taught his parable of the  Sheep and the Goats . On the day when the “ Son of Man arrives in glory ,” his angels will gather  all  the nations before him for judgment, where he will divide them into two groups.  One will receive “ everlasting destruction ,” and the other, “ everlasting life .” - [ Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash ].

Final Ingathering of Grapes

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The ingathering of the “grapes” represents the “wrath of God” on all men who have taken the "mark of the beast"  –  Revelation 14:17-20 .  Next,  Revelation  presents the ingathering of the “ fruit of the vine , ”  which is now pressed in the “ winepress of the God's wrath, ” the fate of all men who gave allegiance to the “ beast ” and received its “ mark. ”  Faithful “ saints ” were gathered into the “ sanctuary of God ,” but the “ inhabitants of the earth ” are now “ tread underfoot ” in His winepress - [ Photo by  Nacho Domínguez Argenta  on Unsplash ].

Final Grain Harvest

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Two different “harvests” occur at the end of the age – The reaping of the “grain,” and the ingathering of the “fruit of the vine”  –  Revelation 14:14-16 .  In chapter 14,  Revelation  contrasts two distinct groups: The men and women who follow the “ Lamb ,” and those who render homage to the “ beast ,” the “ inhabitants of the earth .” And two different fates await each, now presented as two harvests: the “ grain ” harvest, and the ingathering of the “ fruit of the vine .” Both “harvests” occur at the final judgment - [ Wheat ripened - Photo by Paz Arando on Unsplash ].

Taking the Mark

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When we imbibe the values of the existing world order, we begin to take the "mark of the Beast”  -  Revelation 13:16-17 .  Discussions on the “ mark of the Beast ” focus on deciphering the significance of its number, ‘ 666 .’ Understandably, we wish to understand it to avoid taking it. But to do so we must recognize the  scriptural background  behind it, the difference between the “ mark ” and the “ seal of God ”, and the identities of the two resultant groups - [ 666 Photo by Master Wen on Unsplash ].