Category Archives: Read NT

Revelation 20—22

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Monday, December 29, Revelation Chapter 20

Next I saw an angel coming down from heaven, who had the key to the Abyss and a great chain in his handCJB  Get the picture.  Satan is boiling in the lake of sulfurous fire and he sees an angel coming with a massive log chain.  Remember that Satan was a cherubim/archangel, one of only six (by tradition).  He ruled over thousands of lesser angels, the seraphim and the lowly teraphim.  In my mind, I see the angel as being a teraphim who now has the power to chain the once mighty cherub.  That power comes from the Messiah.  If you argue that the angel is really Jesus, I have no problem, the result is the same.

Not only is Satan chained, he is locked in the abyss in total darkness for a thousand years while Abaddon continues to swim in the lake, but with power over death.  Yes, we do not yet have an end to death, though Isaiah 65:20 reads:  No more will babies die in infancy, no more will an old man die short of his days —he who dies at a hundred will be thought young, and at less than a hundred thought cursed. CJB

What does John mean when he talks about the thousand years?  We generally call it the millennium, but the number of ideas about what it is may reach a thousand.  We should know that there are three basic positions: 1) premillennial, 2) amillennial, 3) postmillennial.

The first group believes that the thousand year period, the millennium, comes after Jesus returns to earth and judgment is dispensed, but also that Jesus returns again and punishment is once again carried out.

The second position hold that the millennium is only a figure of speech to represent the completeness of God’s action at the time of the Messiah’s return to earth.  Augustine was the first to speak of this argument by pointing out that ten is a perfect number and a thousand is ten cubed.  One hundred (ten squared) represents completeness, so one thousand is all inclusive.

Position three holds that the return of the Messiah to earth will only occur after the millennium.  The argument is that John, as I have pointed out, is describing events all over the time line.  There is no reason to suppose in this chapter that the events described must occur after chapter 19.

My personal opinion is that it is in God’s hands and I cannot see any reason why any one of the three cannot be correct.  What is important is the ultimate victory of God over Satan.

But whichever stance we take, chapter 20 presents some difficulties, though fewer for premillennialism.

Verses 5 and 6 need to be considered in light of our usual image of the end times.  Most of us have the notion that when we die we will be taken directly into heaven to join Jesus in a perfect world.  If you have read this far in Revelation, you should have dropped that notion by now.  If we had been reading this book as a novel, we would have expected that chapter 19 was the end.  Now we have two resurrections to consider as well as more than one return of Jesus.

The battle has been won but the war is not over.  If God is all powerful, why did he not completely destroy Satan and Abaddon and return humans to the perfection of Eden?

The answer lies partially in Eden.  There were two trees in the Garden humans were to avoid, one was named the other was lurking in the background, perhaps guarded.  Humans have eaten of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Unlike God, we are unable to resist evil.  We have it in our limited minds that if Satan is destroyed, we would no longer be able to sin; that the only reason we sinned was because of Satan so if he is gone we will not sin.

Sorry, we possess the knowledge, we cannot return it.  For as long as we live in whatever form, we will know sin.  How then can God bring an end to sin even as we retain that knowledge?  God has a plan to do just that.  John was given a partial vision of that plan but he could not have understood it even if God had let him see the full version.

Who is lifted up in the first resurrection?  If we remember that it occurred on the Firstfruits, it makes sense that only a select few would have been taken from the grave.  We know of the martyrs, the groomsmen and the bride, but there were also witnesses, believers who were not worthy to be part of the bride.  Two questions:  were all these people already dead and buried and if some are taken into heaven rapture style (in a twinkling) does it matter that they never died.  Remember that the two prophets Elijah and Enoch had to die after their 42 months of fighting evil.  Do we have to die before we can experience the fullness of the new life?

So who is going to be living on earth for a thousand years?  Jesus, his bride, his groomsmen, his witnesses and all the people still living on earth who were not marked as belonging to Satan.  There is little information about this period so we will have to trust God in it.

When the thousand years are over, the Adversary will be set free from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for the battle. Their number is countless as the sand on the seashore; and they came up over the breadth of the Land and surrounded the camp of God’s people and the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The Adversary who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and everCJB

This short war with the ancient enemies, Gog and Magog, is described in more detail in Ezekiel 38-39.  Ezekiel goes on in 40-48 describing much the same images as Revelation 21-22.

At the end of the millennium Satan is turned loose only to finally be thrown into the lake of fire.

At the end of the millennium every human will receive the final judgment as the Book of Life is opened and God reads the punishment each of us must endure.  Those who remain loyal to Jesus will receive a pass based on his own sacrifice.  Those who have rejected God and His Son will join Satan and his masses in the lake.

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Tuesday, December 30, Revelation Chapter 21

Have you noticed that the first two books of the Bible describe the perfect world with its perfect humans and now the last two books describe the new perfect world.  Not just a new world but new heavens as well; a whole new universe.

We will be able to see the torment of those who chose wrongly but we will be unable to help them.  It should keep us from ever choosing to oppose God again.

The new Holy City includes the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles.  It includes access to God and His Son.

It does not fit our common image of living in Heaven.  We will be living on New Earth and Jerusalem will be beyond belief; 1,500 miles in all directions, a perfect cube made entirely of precious metals and stones.

The sea will be no more may refer to the sea as it is often associated with man’s sin.  What would paradise be without a few beaches?

The listing of twelve precious stones recalls the breast-plate of the high priest, each stone representing one of the twelve tribes.

While the New Jerusalem will follow closely what we know of the old city, every nation will be represented on the new earth, but unlike the old Temple, there will be no barrier to prevent any of us from approaching God.

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Wednesday, December 31, Revelation Chapter 22

We will want for nothing.  We will drink pure cool water and eat perfect food from the tree of life.  We will be able to walk or run as far as we want without tiring.  Pain will no longer exist, nor will a long list of parasites like mosquitoes.

The end of verse 11 is for us here and now:  let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holyNIV  Jesus called John out of Patmos to experience something of the future for humanity.  From this and the rest of Scripture we should be able to make the right choice.  We do not want to be like the rich man who ignored Lazarus at his gate (Luke 16:19-31).
“Come!” say the Spirit and the Bride.
Whoever hears, echo, “Come!”
Is anyone thirsty? Come!
All who will, come and drink,
Drink freely of the Water of Life!
 MSG

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Revelation 16—19

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Monday, December 22, Revelation Chapter 16

This chapter describes the seven plagues visited on the followers of Satan.  The saved followers of Jesus are celebrating but it may be their blood that is being poured from the bowls.  In any case, it represents righteous sacrifice for God.

You might notice the similarity between these seven plagues and the ten plagues visited on Egypt.  It is no accident that the angel’s song in verses 5-6 is similar to the song in Exodus 15:1-3.

Verse 8 shows us the sun in keeping with the fourth lamp of each menorah being about the Messiah.  The power of the Son of God burns away everything that is not good.

Each of these bowls should be thought of as a drinking bowl, more like a cup.  The followers of Satan are meant to drink the blood of true sacrifice which turns to corruption in their mouths.  While they drink the blood of corruption, we drink the blood of salvation and purity.

The three worst types of sin are idolatry, murder and sexual immorality.  In the Torah the punishment for all three is death.  That law is about to be enforced.

John Klein and Adam Spears in Lost in Translation, vol. 3 (pages 164-165), compare the seven bowls to the seven symptoms of syphilis, often associated with sexual immorality.  It is interesting.  Compare this list to each bowl: 1) ugly and painful sores; 2) disease retreats into the bloodstream; 3) random internal capillary bleeding occurs; 4) fever and intense flu-like symptoms; 5) blindness and blistering sores; 6) dehydration, insanity and hallucination; 7) death.

Biblically, the Hebrew word for earth is Adamah from which Adam comes.  The first bowl is poured on the earth and the followers of Satan suffered.  The second bowl is poured on the sea, killing its life-giving potential.  The Hebrew word for blood is dam, from Adam also.  The third bowl is cuts off the source of life, the rivers.  The fourth bowl affects the central sun, the source of life on adamah.  God has provided the sun for our benefit; now he turns it against the followers of evil.  The fifth bowl removes the power to control adamah from humans.  That is the power he gave to Adam and Eve in Genesis 2.  God must take back that power to return adamah to its rightful form.  The sixth bowl is poured on the River Euphrates.  The Hebrew word for the river is Perath, meaning fruitfulness.  God removes all the sources for growing or producing food.  The Hebrew word for frogs is tsephardea, a word used to suggest temptation.  Satan is still at work as he calls his earthly armies to battle God at Armageddon.

Before the seventh bowl, God sends one final message to earth in verse 15.  The reference to keeping your clothes probably refers to the punishment to any guard caught asleep while guarding the Temple at night.  He spent the rest of the night on duty naked.

When the seventh bowl is poured into the air, familiar words are spoken: It is finished! TLB  It may not be fair to try to say whether the voice was God’s or the Messiah’s; they are one in the same.

The earth is flattened and bombarded but Satan lives.

Tuesday, December 23, Revelation Chapter 17

We are now back at the center menorah, Thunders.  We see clearly that God is separating the wheat from the weeds, the sheep from the goats, the believers from the unbelievers, the righteous from the unrighteous.  The message to Laodicea, be hot or cold, make a choice.  To be lukewarm is to choose death.

Chapters 17-20 describe the two groups: the believers and the unbelievers.  Chapters 17 and 18 describe those of whom Jesus will say Out of my presence, cursed as you are, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! Phillips

Chapters 19 and 20 will have Jesus saying, I assure you that whatever you did for the humblest of my brothers you did for me;  Phillips and those who have done what God wants will go to eternal lifeCJB

First John is taken by an angel to a desert where he sees the harlot riding on a beast.  Who is she?  She is Astarte/Satan’s bride/the whore/the false high priest/the weeds.  The woman was dressed much like the priests in the Temple.  Verses 9-13 describe what she represents on earth.

One of the things we will see is a wedding in Hell.  We will see what Satan does with his bride.  Verse 16 describes the fate of the harlot.

Satan is still the dragon.

Abaddon is still around.

The False Messiah is Satan combined with the beast from the sea (a nephal).

The False Prophet is Abaddon combined with the beast from the land, also a nephal.

The beast is not Satan but a representation of the seven evil kingdoms; he is Baal.

In verse 18 we learn that the harlot is also a city which is to be destroyed.  More likely, she represents all cities in which sin is practiced.  Yet, Babylon in the Bible is always a representation of that which is evil.  Notice that the seven evil kingdoms has Babylon listed first, fourth and seventh.  They are the evil kingdoms and Satan places himself in the center position (fourth) on that menorah.  He tries to imitate the Messiah again.

Do not forget that Satan will appear in the world in the dress of the religious.  He will try to pass himself off as a man of God.  We must be on our guard.  Isaiah 14:6-23 describes the fate of Babylon/Satan.

Wednesday, December 24, Revelation Chapter 18

The new Babylon will fall to Isaiah’s prediction once again.  Remember that Revelation is a description of what has happened, what is happening and what will happen.  John is looking at all of history from beginning to end as though it is one giant photo.  He gets to step out of time and look at events as God sees them.

When Babylon falls for the last time an angel will announce the good news.  A second angel will encourage people to leave Babylon before they too are destroyed.  This is a good example of seeing events “out of order” as we think of them.  This is important because it shows that God never gives up on humans.  God wants everyone of us in Heaven with him.

The Hebrew tradition is that the Book of Life has every name of every human who has ever lived or will ever live written in its pages.  Those people who insist on having their names removed can do so, but God reserves the right to continue to offer opportunities to reenter the list.

Starting in verse 9 we see many followers of Satan weeping for the loose of Babylon, kings, merchants, sailors all see their fortunes lost.

The millstone in the ocean seals the fate of the city of sin; Babylon will never rise again.  Verse 24:  In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earthNIV

Thursday, December 25, Christmas

Friday, December 26, Revelation Chapter 19

This chapter opens with a beautiful picture of everyone in Heaven celebrating the elimination of Babylon.  At first we are told it is a multitude, then the Twenty-four Elders are listed along with the four living creatures/the archangels (Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael).  Next is a voice from the throne which must be Jesus the Messiah.  The response comes from, apparently, everyone who was rescued from earth, everyone who ever believed in God.

In verse 7 the wedding is shouted out.

In verse 9 an angel speaks to John who is so caught up that he bows to worship a mere angel.

Yet, before the wedding one more bit of business has to be attended to.  Satan and Abaddon live.  This time when the white horse appears, the rider is the Son of God.  The name written on him is unknown to any but God alone.  [We call Jesus my dozens of names but none of us know his real name.  We will.]  The name that John could read (not the unknown name) is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Verses 17-21 cover the entire battle of Armageddon.  An angel calls all the birds of the earth to a feast.  Satan and Abaddon are immediately thrown into the lake of fire and the Son of God speaks the Word of God to kill everyone left standing on earth.  None of God’s army even get dirt on the white linens.  Hollywood will never make this into a movie.

But this movie is not over.  Satan and Abaddon still live, if in a very warm place.  The thousand year period now begins.  More in the next chapter.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Revelation 11—15

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Monday, December 15, Revelation Chapter 11

John is told to get a stick and do some measuring.  This section is part of the wedding.  John is told only to measure the portion of the temple that is covered.  The covered portion represents the chuppah where only the Bride and Groom are to stand.

The measuring rod was a scepter, a sign of authority, and he was told to take measure of all those within the chuppah, not outside.  The people outside are believers who will be guests at the wedding.  They will be able to see the wedding because the vail was torn away when Jesus died (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:450.

In an ancient wedding the bride’s dowry was inspected to make sure it was the agreed sum and the Groom’s payment to the bride’s father was also inspected.  John was invited to take the role of the scribe and make sure the contract was fulfilled.  As we read on it becomes clear that John will be measuring for at least three and a half years (remember, this is a vision).

The two witnesses of verse 3 are not named but Enoch and Elijah seem most likely.  They are the only two people who never died on earth (Genesis 5:24, 2 Kings 2:11-12, and Hebrews 11:5).  Several scriptures say that Elijah will come before the Messiah comes (Malachi 4:5).  Enoch (not the Enoch born to Cain, another deception of Satan) is described in the Book of Enoch as locking the teraphim in the abyss.

It makes sense that these two would be called on to return to earth to take up their duties, die and be resurrected on the third day.

Two numbers are given that are actually equal; 1260 days equals 42 months which equals 3.5 years.  Remember that Hebrews used a lunar calendar.

Following this time-line, the two witness/prophets will be killed in the exact middle of a 7 year period.  They will defend the earthly temple before they are killed.  After their deaths the followers of Satan will rejoice and praise him for sitting on God’s throne.  That will be allowed to happen for the remainder of the 7 years.  Daniel 9 describes this period.

We are getting a little ahead of the story, but consider how many people, places and events of the past keep recurring.  All those prophets of old who spoke of the disasters to come for the people of Israel all while they were speaking of additional disasters to come in the End Times.

Or consider that God created 7 feast days (a perfect number) and that Jesus died on Passover, was buried on Unleavened Bread, arose on Firstfruits and sent his Holy Spirit to the believers on Shavuot, Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit arrived on the central feast of the menorah of feasts.

Daniel wrote in a years-for-weeks ratio, meaning that each week was 7 years long.  His seventieth week (7 years long) began on the New Year, Rosh Hashanah.  It is also known as the Feast of Trumpets.  God plans ahead.

If the two witnesses are following Daniel’s time-line, they will start their 1260 days on Rosh Hashanah, be killed on Passover, and rise on Firstfruits, just like Jesus whose ministry is thought to have lasted over three years.

The two witnesses will be left in the streets for 3.5 days.  In the days-to-years ratio, that equals the 3.5 years that Satan will rule, which means that Jesus will return to earth on….The Feast of Trumpets.

Verse 15 SEVENTH TRUMPET.

This is it, the one we are waiting for.  The Last Trumpet.   Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
 NIV    1 Corinthians 15:51-55

But wait, this trumpet is an announcement of the coming wedding.  It is blown on Rosh Hashanah.  We have more than three years to get through before the end is really here.

We are half way through Revelation and there is plenty more to come.  What we will look at next is the left hand side of the seven menorahs chart.  There is more to the story.

Tuesday, December 16, Revelation Chapter 12

This is a good place to take stock.  The Revelation contains a two part Main Plot: There are two brides, two weddings and two destinies.  Most of the Revelation concentrates on the Bride of the Messiah and their wedding.  The other bride is the bride of Satan.  Remember that Satan always tries to imitate the Messiah and God.  That is what he was doing in the Garden when he convinced Eve, then Adam to eat the forbidden fruit; he was pretending to know more than God.

There is also a major subplot that is best described as the disasters.  The left side of the seven menorahs contains most of the disasters.  Most of us like to read a book that follows a straight line; Revelation does not.  John saw things that have happened, that are happening, that will happen.  Some of the things described in the next few chapters actually happen at the same time as some of the events already described.  Just one of the reasons Revelation is a difficult study.

In chapter 12 the woman and the dragon is an example of mixing time periods, like flash backs and flash forwards.  When we Gentile Christians first read verses 1-6 we see Mary avoiding the attacks of Herod, and that is correct but it is not complete.  The woman is also Israel giving birth to the Messiah with a gestation period of thousands of years.  Satan (the dragon) knows the Messiah is coming and he does all he can to prevent his arrival.

Notice in verse 1 that the woman is clothed with the sun, meaning she has the protection of the sun (God).  The Moon is under her feet, meaning that she belongs to all people.  The twelve stars represent the twelve tribes.

Verse 2 has the woman ready to give birth.  She is Mary but also Israel giving birth to the New Israel.  The New Israel includes the non-Jewish followers of Christ.

In verse 3 Satan is the Red Dragon.  His seven heads is a cheap imitation of God, the head representing authority, so seven different kingdoms.  The seven crowns are another imitation.  Daniel 7:15-28 has background on the ten horns that represent ten nations.  These nations will rule on earth before the Second Coming.

“I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me.  I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.

“So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things:  ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth.  But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’

“Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws—the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.

“He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.

“‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’ NIV

Verses 4-6 of Revelation describe the fall of ⅓ of the angels before moving to the birth of Jesus.  Remember that he speaks of both Mary/Jesus and Israel/Messiah.  The statement about the child being taken to God occurs after Jesus’ resurrection.  Verse 6 returns to the 3 ½ year two witnesses period when all of Israel will be protected.  The next 3 ½ years belong to Satan.

In verses 7-9 we see Satan losing a fight with Michael and being thrown out of heaven as we have mentioned before.  That occurred with the resurrection of Jesus.

The rest of the chapter is straight forward.  Satan cannot get Messiah/Jesus, so he goes after Israel/Mary.  Failing there he turns, in verse 17, to attack the church/Israel, those who follow Jesus who is his real target.

Do not miss this important point.  Far from being “raptured” away before the trouble begins, Jesus tells us through John that we, the people who follow him, will be attacked by Satan.

Isaiah 56:6-8.  “And the foreigners who join themselves to Adonai
to serve him, to love the name of Adonai,
and to be his workers,
all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it,
and hold fast to my covenant,
 I will bring them to my holy mountain
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Adonai Elohim says,
he who gathers Isra’el’s exiles:
“There are yet others I will gather,
besides those gathered already.”
 CJB

When I read a novel and I reach chapter 12 of 22, I know there is much more of the story to come.  Here we find ourselves just 3 ½ years away from the end of Satan.  What could possibly happen that will require that many more chapters?  Read on.

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Wednesday, December 17, Revelation Chapter 13

Now begins 42 months of rule by Satan.  First to come is the beast from the sea, the False Messiah.  That he comes from the sea indicates human origins.  This is crucial for Satan’s plan because the beast, being from humans, will provide the human body Satan has longed for since he saw Adam in the Garden.

The beast is as ugly as the Messiah is beautiful.  However much he tries to mimic the true Messiah it always fails.  The description of the beast matches Daniel 7:4-7.  The first was like a lion, but it had eagle’s wings. As I watched, its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted off the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a human heart was given to it. Then there was another animal, a second one, like a bear. It raised itself up on one side, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up, and gorge yourself with flesh!’ After this, I looked; and there was another one, like a leopard with four bird’s wings on its sides. The animal also had four heads, and it was given power to rule. After this, I looked in the night visions; and there before me was a fourth animal, dreadful, horrible, extremely strong, and with great iron teeth. It devoured, crushed and stamped its feet on what was left. It was different from all the animals that had gone before it, and it had ten hornsCJB

Once the beast appears fully human it will become what we call the anti-Christ, the exact opposite of the Messiah.

In both Daniel and Revelation, the seven heads are symbolic of seven governments and the ten horns symbolize strength.  A few verses on in Daniel (7:24-17) we read about that strength.   As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and yet another will arise after them. Now he will be different from the earlier ones, and he will put down three kings.  He will speak words against the Most High and try to exhaust the holy ones of the Most High. He will attempt to alter the seasons and the law; and [the holy ones] will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time [3⅓ years].  But when the court goes into session, he will be stripped of his rulership, which will be consumed and completely destroyed.   Then the kingdom, the rulership and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. Their kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will serve and obey themCJB

Back to Revelation, verse 3.  One of the heads of the beast appeared to have received a fatal wound, but its fatal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed after the beast in amazementCJB  This is based on Genesis 3:15.  From now on you and the woman will be enemies, as will your offspring and hers. You will strike his heel, but he will crush your headTLB  The prophesy was fulfilled when Jesus defeated death, causing a crushing blow to Satan.

But we need to look more closely the other part of the prophesy.  Satan attacked the heel of Jesus, which we generally assume refers to the nails in his feet or the murder on the cross.  But it has a more powerful meaning.  The heel for Hebrews is where the sandal belongs.  The sandal is the symbol of the third level of covenant relationship, that of inheritance.  Only a child can inherit from the parent.  Only a child of the Messiah can inherit his Kingdom.  Satan tried to prevent that from happening but was himself struck a deadly blow.

The horns represent authority but the number ten represents righteous government.

Let us take a look at Daniel 2:28-45.  But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:

“As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen.  As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.

“Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.  The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze,  its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.  While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

“This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king.  Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

“After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” NIV

This is the description of the statue pictured above, called the Nebuchadnezzar statue because he saw it in a dream.  He asked Daniel to tell him what the dream meant.  It took some courage even for Daniel to tell the king his hard won kingdom would soon be replaced.

Read chapter 13 with this image in mind because Daniel and John described the same kingdoms as well as the same beasts.  The seven heads are the seven kingdoms and they line up with the seven letters to the seven churches.  At the time John wrote the first five kingdoms had come and gone.  Kingdom six was strong in his day.  Kingdom seven will reform at some time as Rome/Babylon.  There are a thousand theories about that kingdom, but it is a waste of time to try to identify it until we see the clear signs that come with it.  People under Nazi rule saw many signs, but Hitler was not the anti-Christ.

In the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:15-24 (condensed):  So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.  At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.  For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the electCJB

Jesus was speaking of the beast, the False Messiah.

Verses 8 and 10 have two important statements.  Everyone living on earth will worship it except those whose names are written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb slaughtered before the world was founded…  This is when God’s holy people must persevere and trust! NIV  NOTICE, even this late in the time frame God’s people are still on earth and still expected to defend themselves against the lies of Satan be staying true to the Truth of God.

Verse 11, Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earthCJB  This is the seventh beast found in Daniel.  The earth symbolizes humans, but also the grave.  Like the first beast, this one comes from humans but perhaps also from death.

It had two horns like those of a lamb, but it spoke like a dragonCJB  Compare this to 2 Peter 2:1-2.  But among the people there were also false prophets, just as there will be false teachers among you. Under false pretenses they will introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and thus bring on themselves swift destruction.   Many will follow their debaucheries; and because of them, the true Way will be malignedCJB  A wolf in sheep’s clothing.

This beast if not the False Messiah, it is the False Prophet.  God promised that Elijah would return to announce the coming of the Messiah.  This False Prophet tries to convince people that it is Elijah.  It will twist the Word of God just the way Satan did in the Garden.

Verse 13 reminds us of Elijah calling down fire in 1 Kings 18:16-40.  Now Satan is finally able to appear to duplicate the power of God, but like the magicians of Pharaoh, Satan has to fake it.

There is a surprising similarity between this chapter’s description of the beasts and the book by Mary Shelly, Frankenstein.  Victor tries to find and destroy the creature that has killed family and friends in retaliation for Victor’s rejection of his “creation”.  Near the end, the monster leaves a note, “My reign is not yet over, you live.”  It becomes a fight between the two and both parish in the artic.

I do not know if Shelly had Revelation in mind when she penned the well-known story published in 1818, but the idea of a beast seems to fit.

Verses 16-18 have caused a blizzard of words in attempted explanation.  It is not our social security numbers or our bank or credit card numbers.  It is the short-hand expression of our relationship with God.  Adam and Eve shared God’s perfection, thus the number 777 described them as being perfect in body, mind and soul.  With sin they became simply human, 666.  But Satan has always wanted to be human, that is what he has been after from the beginning.  He wants us to share that number with him.

God wants us to return to Him and share his perfection; He wants us to return to the 777 status.  By accepting Jesus and his great gift, we can receive our first of three sevens.  To receive the second we must actually follow Jesus and do what he did.  It is not enough to say, “I believe.”  The second 7 will come with work.

Yes, Paul stressed faith, but he wrote often of the need to do.  My soul will be saved by faith.  My mind will be saved by learning and doing the Word of God.  My body can only be saved by receiving a new body, in the twinkling of an eye.

Bottom line? The mark of the beast is to remain fully human.

Thursday, December 18, Revelation Chapter 14

This chapter contains seven Angelic Proclamations.  This is where we see Jesus fulfilling his promise in John 14:2-3.  There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I amPhillips

We see Jesus in the first verse:  Next in my vision I saw Mount Zion, and standing on it a Lamb who had with him a hundred and forty-four thousand people, all with his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheadsNJB  Jesus, the Lamb of God, standing on God’s mountain with his faithful groomsmen.

The announcements or proclamations are what most of us want to concentrate on and they are important, but so is the upcoming wedding so we will look first at that.

In the traditional wedding the groom and his groomsmen set out the night before the wedding to the house of the bride.  They carry shofars, lyres, drums and general noisemakers.  They wander up and down most if not all streets of the village, singing loudly.  No one can doubt that the wedding will be tomorrow.  At the bride’s house the groom picks her up and carries her to a large room or courtyard where most of the wedding party gathers for a party before the wedding.

At the beginning of this chapter we see everything up to the arrival at the bride’s house.  That will come after the proclamations.

The groomsmen, the 144,000, are called the firstfruits (verse 4).  Remember that Jesus died on Passover, the first feast of the year; he was buried on the second feast, Feast of the Unleavened Bread; and he rose from the grave on Firstfruits, the third feast.  The first harvest of the spring was of barley and the very best of the first cut crop was harvested, presented at the Temple, thrashed, ground, made into bread and presented to God as a thank offering.  A greater harvest of wheat was made during Shavuot, Pentecost, and included the same kind of thank offering.

These feasts are important to an understanding of when Christians will be taken from earth to join Jesus in Heaven.  Clearly the 144,000 are a small, select group that few of us have much hope of being selected for.  In this account in Revelation they have already been chosen by Jesus back in chapter 7.  But no other faithful believer has yet been taken up or even raised from the grave.  When does that happen?

After the first harvest of barley, the next harvest comes on Pentecost.  Jesus will arrive to sweep his bride off her feet and take her to heaven.  But as we read this chapter we see that it does not occur until after Satan has been defeated.  We who have not died must endure through 42 months of Satan’s rule.  The line between sheep and goats should be clear by then.

With verse 6 we move into the Angelic Proclamations that make up the second menorah from the left.  Note that these events occur at the same time as some of the events on the right.

The first angel gives a clear warning to everyone on earth that the time of judgment is near.  Repent now while you have a chance.

The second angel describes the fall of the great harlot/Babylon/the False Messiah.  The fall is yet to come, it is announced here as being very near.

The third angel warns against taking up with the Satan.  Anyone bearing his mark will have to drink from his cup.  Followers of the Messiah are asked to drink from his cup.  Verses 12-13 harken back to the church at Philadelphia, especially verse 3:9.

The fourth angel does not appear at first.  Then the scene changed, and I saw a white cloud and someone sitting on it who looked like Jesus, who was called “The Son of Man,” with a crown of solid gold upon his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.  Then an angel [number 5] came from the temple and called out to him, “Begin to use the sickle, for the time has come for you to reap; the harvest is ripe on the earth.” TLB  Daniel said it first.  In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presenceNIV  The center angel of this menorah is all about the Messiah/the Son of Man.

This is it.

We who are faithful are to be taken to God.  This is the second harvest, the firstfruits at Shavuot/Pentecost.  This is the harvest of the Bride of the Messiah.  In this harvest only those marked 776 will be taken.  They may not be as pure as the 144,000 who assist Jesus in the Harvest, but Jesus will make them pure by paying the price.  The Bride will be the center of the Holy Wedding.

In the traditional wedding remember that the bride is collected the night before the wedding, so this harvest also comes before the wedding.  Several events need yet to occur.

In this chapter we learn that Jesus makes more than one Second Coming.  He first harvested the 144,000, then returns to harvest his Bride.  We will soon learn of the third return, the one involving a sword instead of a sickle.

Those marked 766 will have to remain on earth for a time.  There will be a third harvest, the wet harvest of the fall crops at the Feast of Trumpets.  That last harvest is described in verses 17-20.  Angels 6 and 7 announce the harvest, but notice that the crop is thrown into a winepress and left on earth to bleed.  Verse 20:  They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadiaNIV  [A Roman stadia was 608 modern feet.]

Yes, every translation reads blood.  This harvest is of those who are saved but who did little to follow Jesus in their lives.  They must follow Jesus now into martyrdom before they can take their positions in the courts of the Temple to be guests at the wedding.  They will not be a part of the Bride.

Friday, December 19, Revelation Chapter 15

Then I saw another sign in Heaven, vast and awe-inspiring: seven angels are holding the seven last plagues, and with these the wrath of God is brought to an endPhillips  We have reached the last of the seven menorahs, the one with the seven bowls of plagues.  In the next verse John looks ahead to see the victors celebrating.  Among them are those who were just thrown into the winepress.  It has not been easy but they are at least ready for Heaven.

John then sees the seven angels receive the bowls of plagues.  The Temple is shrouded in smoke so that no one can look in until the plagues have been delivered.

Everything is ready for the end of sin.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Revelation 6—10

from Lost in Translation

Photo from page 53 of Lost in Translation vol 2 by John Klein and Adam Spears

from lost in Translation

Photo from page 66 of Lost in Translation vol 2 by John Klein and Adam Spears

Monday, December 8, Revelation Chapter 6

This chapter announces the breaking or opening of six of the seven seals (the seventh will be in chapter 8).  This is found on the second menorah on the right of the seven menorahs chart.

The first two verses of chapter 6 have led to great confusion in recent times.  Many have taken this as a description of the rapture because the first horseman rides a white horse and the Messiah is supposed to return on a white horse.  However, the Lamb (Messiah) is busy breaking the seals on the scroll.  But more importantly, whoever is on the horse is there to cause destruction, not rescue believers.  He/it carries a bow, a sign of war. The crown is not described like the crown of the Messiah.

Look back to 4:6-8: Prowling around the Throne were Four Animals, all eyes. Eyes to look ahead, eyes to look behind. The first Animal like a lion, the second like an ox, the third with a human face, the fourth like an eagle in flight. The Four Animals were winged, each with six wings. They were all eyes, seeing around and within. And they chanted night and day, never taking a break:

Holy, holy, holy
Is God our Master, Sovereign-Strong,
The Was, The Is, The Coming
MSG

We do not know which of the four angels speak with each of the first four seals, but they are the ones who release the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  Who are the Four Horsemen?

The first brings war.  God does not bring war.  That is the result of sin.  Satan brings war.  He stirs up hatred within us.  He does all he can to get us to oppose love because Satan opposes the source of Love.  He wears a crown to try to fool us into thinking that he is the Messiah.

Notice that Satan brings war on numerous levels; war between husband and wife, children and parents, Republicans and Democrats, Americans and Arabs, and especially Christians and Christians.

In the End Times, God turns Satan loose on the world to do his worst.  We Christians must stand our ground and stay close to God.  This is happening now.  We cannot become comfortable in thinking that the End Times is in the distant future and will not affect us.  Revelation describes events happening in the past, now and in the future, all at the same time.  God is not bound by time nor is his Plan.

Paul wrote of this to the church at Thessalonica, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.  This man of sin will come as Satan’s tool, full of satanic power, and will trick everyone with strange demonstrations, and will do great miracles. He will completely fool those who are on their way to hell because they have said no to the Truth; they have refused to believe it and love it and let it save them, so God will allow them to believe lies with all their hearts, and all of them will be justly judged for believing falsehood, refusing the Truth, and enjoying their sinsTLB

Why does he ride the white horse?  He is the Great Deceiver, he is imitating the Messiah.

The breaking of the second seal releases the rider of a red horse begins to bring war with his great sword.  As the revelation continues we will read of four great wars, not including the war of Armageddon.  Notice that the first rider on the white horse brings discord, setting the stage for the second rider to bring on war.

The third seal is broken in verse 5, releasing the rider of the black horse.  “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages.” NIV  This represents famine.  As we know, the price of food goes up with shortages.  Today, this day alone, 8,500 children will die of starvation.  Another 8,500 tomorrow and every day after.  One billion people go to bed hungry every night.  The US alone sends enough food to our dumps to feed all those people.  The black horse is already at work and it will be even worse before the End.

With verse 7, we see the Pale Horse released.  This rider is death.  He brings sickness, putrefaction, decay and rot; in short death.  But all of that is already our state of being.  From the moment humans first disobeyed God, death has stalked us.  The difference is that following Jesus will result in being raised from the dead.  We will die but Jesus has defeated death, so we will rise from the grave to join Him whom we love and who loves us.  Remember that the center lamp of every menorah is about the Messiah.  Here, death comes but it only reminds Jesus’ followers that the victory is won.

I am a historian by training and occupation.  By my training, as is true for most people, I think that A comes first, then B, then C, etc.  We need to always remember to think of Revelation as occurring in the past, present and future; what is, was and will be.  Jesus defeated death 2,000 years ago, but he also defeated death before time began and at the end of time.

You will notice a change starting with verse 9.  This menorah gives us a common four/three Hebrew pattern.  The 4 horsemen were all about events on earth.  The next three seals will deal with Heaven and earth and the interconnection between them.

Seal 5 deals with the martyrs, those who are killed because they believe in God and the Messiah.  They actually make up the base of the altar in Heaven.  On earth, the altar was over 200 feet high and about 50 feet wide.  It was located in the Court of Israel outside the Temple building itself.  When a sacrifice was made, priests walked up a long ramp with the sections of meat to place them on the fires at the top of the altar.

We do not know the process in Heaven, but we know that the martyrs are the altar.  The first martyr?  Abel.

Notice in verse 11 that they wear white robes, indicating that they are probably the Bride of the Messiah or at least a guest at the wedding.  Read Matthew 22:1-14 to see that everyone at the wedding will wear white.

The sixth seal takes a turn to terror.  Unlike the other seals, especially 5, this seal deals with the End Times only.  In verses 12-17 we see God trying to turn people’s minds to him in a desperate way.  This actually shows us God’s Mercy because it is all about salvation.  A few people will realize that they need God, but most will remain hard-hearted.  The suffering of this seal is spoken of in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26.  Several of the prophets spoke of parts of the prophecy.

Matthew 24 contains Jesus’ description of the end.  24:6 describes the second seal; 24:7 describes the third seal; 24:8 describes the fourth seal; 24:9 describes the fifth seal; and 24:10-16 describes the sixth and seventh seals and some of the trumpets yet to come.

The chapter ends with the sixth seal.  Chapter 7 will set up the seven trumpets and chapter 8 will include the seventh seal

Tuesday, December 9, Revelation Chapter 7

God has protected humans since He placed us on earth.  We are physically ill-equipped to defend ourselves from the numerous creatures that can kill or maim us, let alone from the millions of space rocks looking to pound our planet.  God has shielded us from the worst that could happen.  With the breaking of the seals and now with the angels holding back the wind, that all changes.

Wind is the Hebrew description of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit comes like the wind.  Think about the baptism of Jesus and the Pentecost experience.  Adam was given life from the breath (wind) of God.  Now four angels, not Satan, are commanded to hold back the Holy Spirit.  However, those who believe continue to be under his protection; only those who oppose God will suffer the absence of the Spirit in their lives.

This is preparation for the selection of the 144,000.  A great deal has been written about this special group, most of it wrong.  What we know from this text is that an angel has been given the signet ring of God and uses it to mark a large group of people as belonging to God and therefore under his protection.  We learn in 14:4 that they never married, followed Jesus in every way, and avoided sin, we assume not completely but mostly.  This group is given white robes so they can attend the wedding, but it is not clear here what their role is.  Ezekiel 9:4 has a similar selection process.

They are marked with the name of God which is 777.  Humans have been marked 666 since the Fall.  Before the Fall, Adam and his companion were marked like God.  Today, when we confess our faith in Jesus the mark is changed to 766 and we start our journey back to 777.  The three digits represent body, mind and soul.  It is possible to reach 776 before death, but not 777.

These 144,000 people receive the distinction of the full mark of God.  The number is important, being 12 times 12.  Twelve is a perfect number and when it is squared that magnifies the perfection.  At the same time, we cannot take the number to mean that exactly that many people are marked.  When numbers are used in Scripture their meaning is often not found in the numerical value but in the religious value.  Forty days means a long time.  Twelve tribes mean perfection of a nation.  Six represents sin and Satan.

In the story of the wedding, the basis of Revelation, we have been introduced to the Groom and the Father of the Groom, the Messiah and God.  Now we are introduced to the best man, the groomsmen.  That, we will see, is the role of the 144,000.  In ancient Hebrew weddings the groomsmen had to be unmarried virgins, related to the groom, and willing to serve the groom in every way possible.  Chapter 14 provides more details about this special group.

Some people say that the 144,000 are chosen as special evangelist in the End Time but the text does not support that idea at all.

Starting with verse 9 there is a change in the scene.  We see a large group of people dressed in white waving palm branches and praising God.  This is a different group all together.  The 144,000 were marked on earth, this crowd is standing before the throne of God.  We read in verse 14 that they washed their robes and whitened them by the blood of the LambTLB  Clearly they are people who have accepted the great gift of salvation from Jesus.

In verse 15 we read that they are before the throne of God.  In every Jewish wedding even today the guest are in front of the chuppah (pronounced hoop-ah).  The bride and groom stand under the chuppah.  These people are guests not the bride.

Guests in a traditional ancient Hebrew wedding were expected to wear a single white robe; only one layer of clothing to indicate their status as guests.  This also connects to the first level of covenant relationship with another person or with God.  It is the blood or service covenant.  When I tell Jesus that I believe he is the Son of God, I also agree to become his servant.  That is why Paul sometimes referred to himself as a slave of Jesus.

Those of us who remain in that first level of service will be marked with 766, will be given a white robe to wear at the wedding when we are resurrected.  In contrast, the Bride of Christ will be wearing four layers of covering representing all four covenant relationships.  More on that later.  Reread Matthew 22:8-14 where Jesus describes the wedding guests.

Wednesday, December 10, Revelation Chapter 8

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for what seemed like half an hourCJB

We need some background to understand why this is such an important sentence.  Not only are we looking at a wedding in Heaven, we are looking at a wedding inside the Heavenly Temple.  The earthly tabernacle, and then temple, was a small replica of the real Temple, even that monster temple Herod built.

On earth, every morning at sunrise and every evening about 4 o’clock a lamb was sacrificed for the sins of the nation of Israel.  What we non-Jews often overlook is the part of the service that occurred inside the Holy Place.  One priest was chosen to enter, refill the oil of the menorah and place incense on the hot coals on the golden incense table.  That generally took about thirty minutes during which time no sound was made and everyone in attendance touched their foreheads to the floor in silent prayer to God.  This is what verses 1-6 describe.

Before that is the breaking of the seventh seal.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, as the Groom is the only one allowed to open the marriage contract.  The seven seals represent the seven people who signed the contract: the two fathers, the bride and groom, two witnesses and a scribe.  With all seals opened the wedding may begin.

But this is more than just a wedding, it is also the time when God defeats sin forever, so other events take place.

Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven shofarsCJB  The shofar is a trumpet made of the horn of a ram.  It was used at the temple services to announce the stages of worship starting with the opening of the gate in the morning.  There were seven blasts of the shofar throughout the daily worship.

In Revelation the seven blasts announce God’s judgment upon humans.  With the first trumpet hot coals are taken from the golden altar and thrown upon earth.  That is a symbolic act of God’s judgment found in the Old Testament, Ezekiel 10:1-2.

In the End Times the act is more than symbolic; the seraph angel, the fire angel, burns a third of the forests and rangelands.  Not just burns, destroys completely.  There any number of ways we can imagine this happening such as drought and lightening.  But know that it comes from God.

The second trumpet sounds and a mountain of fire strikes the oceans killing sea life and destroying our ships.  Meteor?  Mountains also represent nations so it may be that God intends to destroy the false gods of various nations.  Verse 8 says a third of the sea turned to bloodCJB  The sea represents humans and blood means sacrifice.  This whole second trumpet may refer to the destruction of humans.

The third trumpet sounds and an angel falls into the rivers and springs.  The Star’s name was Wormwood.  A third of the water turned bitter, and many people died from the poisoned waterMSG  Wormwood is the source of the alcoholic drink absinthe, so bitter few can stand to drink it.  In the Old Testament wormwood is connected to death and emptiness, Deuteronomy 29:18.

The fourth trumpet affects the earth, but concerns the heavens.  This is the central position on the menorah of the trumpets.  The sun was created on the fourth day and is here again in the fourth position.  The sun is associated with God as the source of light and the moon is associated with humans because we reflect the light of God.  Isaiah 13:6-12 seems to anticipate this trumpet.

The first three trumpets brought destruction to the earth and the fourth reduced the presence of God in our lives.  In the next chapter we will see three woes coming with the trumpets.

Thursday, December 11, Revelation Chapter 9

With verse 1 we see Abaddon, the angel of death, unlocking the bottomless pit and releasing nasty things to torment us.  Notice that John records that I saw a star that had fallen out of heaven onto the earthCJB also that he was given the key.  When Jesus died he took the key from Abaddon and entered Hell to free his people who were locked up there.  Notice how Peter describes the event in 1 Peter 3:18-20:  he went and made a proclamation to the imprisoned spiritsCJB  Not, he preached and converted.  What did Jesus proclaim?  “You are free.”

In Revelation 12:7-9 we will read that Satan was thrown out of Heaven when Jesus rose from the grave.  Since that time Satan has only been allowed to live on earth along with all the other fallen angels.

The problem is that some of the angels are teraphim, the lowest form of angel.  They are the only ones that can look like humans and can interact with us.  They are watchers who are assigned by God to watch over and protect individuals.

The teraphim that joined Satan are written about in Genesis 6:4.   In those days, and even afterwards, when the evil beings from the spirit world were sexually involved with human women, their children became giants, of whom so many legends are toldTLB  Many translations call them sons of God and heroes which is misleading.  They were fallen angels working with Satan.  Their children are called Nephilim and are the demons of the Bible.  While the Nephilim still exist, the teraphim were locked in the abyss as we read in verse 6 of Jude:  And the angels that did not keep within their original authority, but abandoned their proper sphere, he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for the Judgment of the Great DayCJB

The key to the abyss is given to Abaddon who releases the teraphim who appear on earth as locusts.  They will attack all those who do not have the mark of God on them.  Their attacks will cause great pain lasting for five months; the people will want to die but will not.  The Old Testament often describes the attacks of devils as locusts.

Notice all through Revelation how even the rebellious angels do the will of God.  Satan would like to do more but God restrains him.

Notice in the description that follows that the locusts appear as warriors.  They are making war on those who do not belong to God.  They want to attack those with the mark of God but cannot get past His protection.  Nonetheless, believers will have to suffer by watching their friends and neighbors suffer greatly.

Verse 13 begins the description of the sixth trumpet with the second woe.  This time an army of 200 million on horses will kill one third of the population not marked for God.  The image of human faces on the riders may mean that people team up with devils to make war on others.

Satan pulls another of his deceptions in that the riders’ breastplates are red, blue and yellow, the very colors of the first three covenant relationships with God.  It is easy to tell that this is the work of Satan when we see that the destruction is accomplished with Satan’s tools of fire, smoke and sulfur.  It is no accident that fire is red, smoke blue and sulfur is yellow.

This is the second great war.  Notice that the attack comes from the Euphrates.  It is similar to the descriptions in both Ezekiel 38-39 and the short book of Joel who even mentions locusts.

Friday, December 12, Revelation Chapter 10

The seventh trumpet will have to wait until chapter 11.  Chapter 10 contains a strange interlude of importance.

Look again at the seven menorahs chart above and see that the seventh trumpet ties into the seven thunders menorah.  For whatever reason, Jesus wants us to hear the thunders before the seventh trumpet.  In fact, before the sixth trumpet is finished as we will see in the first part of chapter 11.

The angel of verse 1 is clearly representing God, rainbow and all.  As we read the short chapter it becomes clear from several clues that the Messiah is appearing as an angel.  Dressed in a cloud, legs on the sea and land (Lord of both humans and death), and a voice like a lion (Lion of Judah) with the sound of thunder only associated with God.  Verse 5 begins to make it even clearer, he swears by God, not something an angel would do.

The Messiah holds in his hand the scroll that has had all the seals opened by him.  He loudly announces all of the qualifications to be his Bride, the seven thunders.  God instructs John not to write those words; perhaps because they are the same words he gave to Moses, the Torah.  The words are a description of the moment of the separation of the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-46).

The words of the Messiah in verses 6 and 7:  “There will be no more delay; on the contrary, in the days of the sound from the seventh angel when he sounds his shofar, the hidden plan of God will be brought to completion, the Good News as he proclaimed it to his servants the prophets.” CJB  This is the moment written about by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:50-52:  Let me say this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot share in the Kingdom of God, nor can something that decays share in what does not decay.  Look, I will tell you a secret — not all of us will die! But we will all be changed!  It will take but a moment, the blink of an eye, at the final shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised to live forever, and we too will be changedCJB

Verses 8-10 is a reenactment of the first day of Torah study in the old days, though some rabbis may still do it.  The boys were told to put honey on the corner of one page and then eat the corner to remind them they were to consume God’s word, not just learn it.  Proverbs 2:1-5:  My son, if you will receive my words and store my commands inside you, paying attention to wisdom
inclining your mind toward understanding — yes, if you will call for insight and raise your voice for discernment, if you seek it as you would silver and search for it as for hidden treasure — then you will understand the fear of Adonai and find knowledge of God
CJB

In verse 11 John receives an additional command to share the Word with everyone.  The bitterness of the sweet Word of God is that we have to give up the things of this world and focus on the things of God.  John, remember, was in prison for his beliefs.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Revelation 1—5

 

Seven Sevens

Photo from page 53 of Lost in Translation vol 2 by John Klein and Adam Spears

 

 

Revelation 1—5

Monday, December 1, Revelation Chapter 1

The common assumption today is that Revelation is intentionally written is such a way that outsiders could not understand it.  By the time John wrote, the Romans were persecuting Christians, so the sections referring to Rome had to be hidden.  That is probably not the case.

John, at the time he wrote Revelation about 95 AD (when he was in his 90’s), was a prisoner on the island of Patmos.  It is a small island near Ephesus with small settlements, mostly for fishing.  He was free to roam the island and do as he liked, but he could not leave.  As the last surviving Apostle, every Christian who could afford it went to visit.

John received a vision of Heaven that is very like the ones received by both Ezekiel and Daniel.  He received messages dealing with the end times that have much in common with both the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles.  What is found in Revelation would not cause Christians or Jews any more trouble with Rome than they already had.

We have a problem in this short study.  To fully understand the Message from God to us, we need a basic understanding of how God has been communicating his Message to us since the beginning of time.  I will point the way, but much more study will be needed to understand all of the points.  Therefore, I recommend the three volume Lost in Translation books by John Klein and Adam Spears.  They are pastor and Congregational Leader of a Messianic Hebrew congregation in Bend, Oregon.

Chapter 1 of Revelation is an introduction of the first major section, the 7 letters.  We will see the number seven many times in Revelation.  Most of us know it is the number most closely associated with God, being one of the numbers of perfection.  It is perfection in part because it is the number of completion.

Verses 1-2:  This is the revelation which God gave to Yeshua the Messiah, so that he could show his servants what must happen very soon. He communicated it by sending his angel to his servant Yochanan [John], who bore witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah, as much as he sawCJB  We learn first that the message is from God to Jesus, second that Jesus had his personal angel deliver the message to John and third that the message was the Word of God.  Far from being a nearly irrelevant book until the end times, it is a book for us in the here and now.  It is the Word of God.  How more relevant can it get?

In verse 3 we learn that the time is near.  However, the Greek word is kairos which is more accurately a season of time, which fits with the images of Ezekiel and Daniel.

Verse 8 I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the AlmightyNIV  In Hebrew it is Aleph and Tâv and in English A & Z.  Biblically, God created the universe and He will supervise the ending of the universe.  God is First and Last.  And He is in control of the Last.

Verses 17-18:  When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like a dead man. He placed his right hand upon me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, the Living One. I was dead, but look! — I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to Death and Sh’olCJB  Jesus is the First and the Last.  And he is in control of the Last because he now has the keys to both Death and Sh’ol (Hades, Hell).  The game is over, the Great Liar cannot win.

As pointed out above, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet are Aleph and Tâv.  Every letter in the alphabet has a meaning because they began as pictographs.  Aleph means “first, strong,” and Tâv means “sign of the cross or tree.”  The first five books of the Bible are called by God, Torah.  Those letters ‘read’ “Behold the man nailed to the sign of the covenant.”

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earthCJB  Ten words, but in Hebrew it is seven words.  Seven at the beginning.  The middle word, word four, is the letters Aleph Tâv.  There is no English word for it, so it is never translated, yet it appears throughout the Hebrew Bible.  Every appearance is to remind us that the First and the Last is in the center of everything.

The first sentence of the Bible is perfect because it contains seven words.  It is perfect because it places God in the center of those seven words, therefore, in the center of everything.  It is perfect because it gives us our first look at the menorah.

We Gentiles consider the menorah an odd symbol for Israel and, oh yes, it was used in the Temple.  Actually, the menorah is woven into the Bible in countless ways.  It is important for us in this study because it is one of the keys to understanding the Revelation.

I turned around to see who was speaking to me; and when I had turned, I saw seven gold menorahs. CJB  Seven menorahs.  The menorah is a lampstand with seven separate lights.  So we have 49 lights total.  Each of the seven menorahs has a center lamp, designed to hold all the oil for all seven lamps.  It feeds the oil through tubes to the other lamps.  In the Temple, the center lamp was always the source for lighting the other lamps.  That center lamp is number four, counting from right to left (as in reading Hebrew) and represents the Aleph Tâv, the First and the Last, the center of all Light and all Life.

John saw seven menorahs with one being the center, or number four menorah.  In Revelation the center light of the center menorah will turn out to be the Messiah.  In verse 13, we read and among the menorahs was someone like a Son of ManCJB  Son of Man was Jesus’ favorite title for himself, but John uses it here and in only one other place (14:14).  The term stresses the humanity of the Messiah.  The description of that special human is, however, of the Godly nature of the Messiah.

The description is like those in Ezekiel and Daniel when describing God or the coming Messiah.  We also see him holding seven stars, typical symbols for angels, but sometimes for saints.  Each of the seven congregations to ‘receive’ a letter has its own angel, but each has its saints as well.

Tuesday, December 2, Revelation Chapter 2

Chapters 2 and 3 should be taken as one chapter, for they cover the seven letters which make up a unit.  Each letter contains 1) a description of Jesus, 2) congratulations (except Sardis and Laodicea), 3) rebuke (except Smyrna and Philadelphia) 4) exhortation, and 5) a promise.

We generally speak of these letters as going to churches, but the Greek word used is ecclesia, meaning congregation.  Cirice is the oldest English word for ‘meeting place’.  Over the centuries it morphed into church.  Because the early church well into the second century met in synagogues, this is probably the best reading of verse 1:  To the angel of the Messianic Community in EphesusCJB  More accurate but more difficult for most of us is To the malach of the Kehillah in EphesusOJB

More important than ecclesia is the message that the angel had some work to do in Ephesus.  It had been the rock star of early Christianity and was Paul’s favorite.  He sent Timothy to spend the rest of his life helping them.  He is not mentioned in this writing and may have died by then.  It does not matter for the Ephesians were losing their luster.

We learn the following in this letter:

Jesus holds seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven menorahs.

The congregation is commended for doing good deeds, toiling, persevering and being unwilling to tolerate evil men, the Nicolaitans, a group of pagan priests leading the people away from God.  They have not grown weary.

The congregation is rebuked for having left their first love.

The congregation is exhorted to remember where they have fallen, repent and return to their good deeds.

The congregation will be rewarded with the fruit of the tree of life and eternity in Paradise.

There is another layer to the menorah image that leads us to a more complete understanding of the role of the Messiah in the Bible.  Adam (mankind) sinned and was banned from Paradise.  God immediately placed His salvation plan into operation.  Step one was to cover them.  Adonai, God, made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed themCJB  But this covering was more than mere leather, it included, and includes, the protective covering of the Holy Spirit.

Where did the leather come from?  Not a question I had ever thought of.  The obvious answer leads us to the first blood sacrifice.  God killed animals to cloth his humans.  Their blood sealed the first covenant between God and man (Adam).  Adam sinned but was sorry; he repented and tried to stay as close to God as he could.  He represents the blood sacrifice which is the symbol for the lowest level of covenant relationship: service.  That is why Paul always referred to himself as a servant of Jesus.

Every single human who has ever lived, or ever will live, will be a slave-servant; either to Jesus or to Satan.  There are no other possibilities.  If I refuse to make a choice, Satan is the default master.  Salvation can only come by choosing Jesus.

Ephesus clearly chose to serve Jesus and their reward will be great.

Smyrna also chose Jesus.

From their letter, we learn that Jesus is the First and the Last, who was dead and has come to life.

The congregation may live in earthly poverty, but they are rich.  They are blasphemed by those who falsely claim to be Jews. (Actually Greek philosophers who were Gnostics.)

God had no rebuke for this congregation.

The congregation need not fear the coming suffering of ten days.  The suffering is still going on.  Be faithful, even to death.  In the Bible, the number 10 is used 242 times. The designation “10th” is used 79 times. Ten is also viewed as a complete and perfect number, as is 3, 7 and 12. It is made up of 4, the number of the physical creation, and 6, the number of man. As such, it signifies testimony, law, responsibility and the completeness of order.  In Genesis 1 we find the phrase “God said” 10 times, which is a testimony of His creative power. God gave the 10 Commandments to man. Ten therefore represents man’s responsibility to keep the commandments. A tithe is a 10th of our earnings and is a testimony of our faith in the Lord.  The Passover lamb was selected on the 10th day of the 1st month (Exodus 12:3), as was Jesus, the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world (John 12:28 – 29; 1 Corinthians 5:7). The 10th day of the 7th month is the Holy Day known as the Day of Atonement. From biblestudy.org

The congregation will receive the crown of life and exemption from the second death when Satan receives his final ‘reward’.

We learn that Jesus has a two-edged sword (for judgment).

The congregation dwells in Satan’s throne, yet holds to Jesus and the faith.

Yet some in their midst follow Baal and the Nicolaitans.

The congregation is exhorted to repent.

The congregation will receive the reward of manna and a white stone on which is written a new name that nobody knows except the one receiving itCJB

The white stone was used in ancient courts.  When a case had been heard against the accused, the judge would place a stone on the table, black for conviction or white for exoneration.  We can add that white stands for purity.

This white stone for Smyrna also represents a renaming of the faithful.  Abraham received that name at the age of 99 when God told him Abraham and Sarai, whom he should now call Sarah, would have a son who would provide Abraham the promised multitude of descendants.  Each of us who remain true to the faith will receive our new names in Paradise, written in Hebrew on white stones.

The letter to Thyatira describes Jesus as having eyes like flames and feet of polished bronze.

With those eyes, Jesus knows the congregation’s love and faithful service, even greater now than when they began.

His rebuke is that they follow Jezebel into immorality.

Jesus exhorts the congregation to hold fast, do his work to the end.

Their reward will be authority over nations with the morning star; they shall rule with an iron rod.

That last comes from Numbers 24:17:  I see him, but not now;   I behold him, but not near.  A star will come out of Jacob;   a scepter will rise out of IsraelCJB  The scepter is the iron rod and the star is the Morning Star, another name for the Messiah.  It was not a common name until the writings between the Testaments when the Bright Morning Star, the Messiah, was looked forward to.

Remember that the center lamp of each menorah serves as the source of oil for the other six lamps; it is the servant lamp.  As such, it is also the very symbol of the Messiah, in both Judaism and Christianity.  Jesus both serves us and provides us what we need to live.

As the Morning Star, we are reminded that Jesus is the light of the world.  But also notice in the passage in Numbers that Jesus shares with Jacob.  The image is of Jacob, like his father and grandfather, being the forerunner of the Messiah.  At the same time Jacob represents the Bride of the Messiah.  The idea of Jesus taking his followers as his Bride is not new in the New Testament.  It has its roots as far back as chapter 3 of Genesis.  Jacob is the Bride in that he represents all those who choose God over Satan.

Wednesday, December 3, Revelation Chapter 3

This is the only reference to Sardis in the Bible.  The city was a major military city in Roman days and was the city that invented and produced electrum, a laminate of gold and silver used by pagan priests to divine the intentions of the gods.

Jesus is said to be the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven starsCJB  or the seven Spirits of GodPhillips  Those seven Spirits are represented by the seven congregations.

The congregation is commended for having a few worthy to walk in Heaven dressed in white.

The congregation is rebuked for doing very little.  They are dead in deeds.

The congregation is encouraged to hold fast to what they know and keep watch for when Jesus returns.

The congregation will be rewarded with white clothing and the promise that their names will never be removed from the Book of Life.  Jesus will personally speak their names to God.

Sardis, more than the other six, is a congregation most like the US.  They find it difficult to remain faithful in a land of plenty.  It is difficult to identify with the poor when one is rich.

Remember what you received and heard, and obey it, and turn from your sin! CJB  Very much the message Moses delivered to the stiff-necked people in the desert.

Philadelphia is next on the list of letters.

They are said to possess the key of David.  This is actually a statement about the Messiah having the keys of death and Hades.

The congregation is commended for keeping the Word even with little power.

The congregation is not rebuked.

The congregation is encouraged to hold fast to what they know and keep watch for when Jesus returns.

The promise is that the congregation will become a pillar in the Temple of God and that Jesus will write the true Name of God on them.

The city is linked to David by the reference to the city of my God, the new JerusalemNIV  David founded the earthly city of Jerusalem with the promise that the Messiah would usher us to the Heavenly City of Jerusalem.

In spite of the fact that the city is identified with evil, See how I deal with those of Satan’s synagogue, Phillips God still promises a marriage relationship by giving them, and us, His name.

The letter to Laodicea closes this first major section of Revelation.

Jesus is the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Ruler of God’s creationCJB

There is no commendation.

The church is rebuked for being lukewarm.  You keep saying, ‘I am rich, I have gotten rich, I don’t need a thing!’ CJB

My advice to you is to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be dressed and not have to be ashamed of your nakedness; and eye salve to rub on your eyes, so that you may seeCJB

The reward:  I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me.  I will let him who wins the victory sit with me on my throneCJB

Laodicea in ancient times had many natural springs, both hot and cold, where people came to take the healing comfort of the water.  That is good, but God wants his people to be hot, not lukewarm.

Being rich is only about a proper relationship with God through Jesus.  Without that relationship, we are wearing the emperor’s clothes, naked without realizing it.

 Here, I’m standing at the door, knockingCJB  This may be the single most important sentence in Revelation.  We will look later at the process of marriage in ancient Jewish tradition, but here we see the Groom standing at the Bride’s door.  This is the moment of final decision.  The time of courtship and negotiations is over.  Now, let us be married.  But the Bride still has the option of refusing to open the door, even though she has signed the legal document that has been sealed for the wedding. Jesus will not force anyone to be his Bride.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached on the first Sunday in Advent, 1928.  When early Christianity spoke about the return of the Lord Jesus, it was thinking first of all about a great day of judgment.  And as alien to Christmas as this thought may seem to us, it derives from early Christianity and should be taken seriously.  When we hear Jesus knocking at our door, the first thing that happens is that our conscience awakens:  Are we properly prepared?  Is our heart capable of becoming his dwelling place?  Hence the time of Advent becomes a time of introspection for us…. It is so peculiar because we so often encounter God’s footprints in the world together with the footprints of human suffering, of the cross on Golgotha.  We have grown so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of the coming at Christmas that we no longer sense the awe that God’s coming should awaken in us.  We have become dulled to the message; we only register what is welcome in it, what is pleasant, forgetting the powerful seriousness of the fact that the God of the worlds is approaching us on our small earth and now makes claims on us.  God’s coming is truly not merely a message of joy, but first of all horrifying news for every person with a conscience.

Thursday, December 4, Revelation Chapter 4

Chapters 4 and 5 prepare us for the next big section of sevens, that of the seals.  Beginning in chapter 4, John is spirited into Heaven to the Throne Room of God.  In thinking of the great wedding in Heaven, God is Father of the Groom.

After these things, I looked; and there before me was a door standing open in heaven; and the voice like a trumpet which I had heard speaking with me before said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after these things.” Instantly I was in the Spirit, and there before me in heaven stood a throne, and on the throne Someone was sittingCJB

These first two verses have been taken by many as a picture of the rapture.  As can be easily seen, the word rapture does not appear in the Bible.  It was never used in reference to the Bible until 1830 when Edward Irving first suggested it to be a part of the end times.  The basic idea is that all of the faithful followers of Jesus will be instantly taken to Heaven long before Jesus returns to earth.

The command, “Come up here, is the key to the idea of rapture.  God commanded not only John but all his followers.  It is understood that John witnessed the future, that he heard God call every follower on that great day of rapture.

John writes, Instantly I was in the Spirit, which clearly means his body remained on earth.  Further, he wrote, I, not we.  Indeed, he later wrote Revelation while on the island and lived a few more years on earth before being buried like the rest of his fellow Apostles.  It is incredible to me that an entire concept can be built on these two verses.

In the next verse we read, The One sitting there gleamed like diamonds and rubies, and a rainbow shining like emerald encircled the throneCJB  Now, where have we read about a rainbow before?  Genesis chapter 9 for sure, but also Ezekiel 1:28.  This brilliance around him looked like a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day. This was how the appearance of the glory of Adonai looked. When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speakingCJB  Color plays an important role throughout the Bible, culminating in Revelation.

The rainbow is more than a sign of the covenant not to destroy humans with water again.  It is built into the essence of God and surrounds him at all times.  As we know from school, a rainbow is made when light is refracted, that is, split up.  We also know it only comes from pure light, that is, white light.

Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and on the thrones sat twenty-four elders dressed in white clothing and wearing gold crowns on their headsCJB  Notice first the white.  It is the symbol of purity and also of marriage.  The gold crowns indicate nobility.  There is little disagreement that 12 of them are the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel and the other 12 are the Apostles.  Judas?

John sees In the center, around the throne, were four living beings covered with eyes in front and behindCJB  These must be the four cherubim we generally call archangels; Michael (Warrior of God), Gabriel (Redeemer of God), Raphael (Healer of God), and Uriel (Light of God).  The second two names are found in the teachings of the rabbis called the Oral Tradition.  Some rabbis included Raguel, Remiel and Soraqael for a total of seven cherubim.  I think four is the correct number, but I would not be shocked to learn that God has millions of cherubim.

When these cherubim are not praising God, they are sent by God on special missions to deal with Satan, as well as with you and me.  God created three orders of angels; cherubim, seraphim and teraphim.

Seraphim are the middle order of angels and do most of the messenger work for God.  They would have been the ones singing to the shepherds of the birth of the Messiah.

The teraphim are the lowest order, but are the only ones that are capable of taking human form.  Every person on earth is said to have a guardian angel, but their mission is not to prevent us from sinning or protect us from being abused.  They encourage us to “run the good race.”

We do need to know two other cherubim, though we may never know their true names.  The one we call Satan (Lucifer) lead a rebellion against God and was cast out of Heaven for it.  He teamed up with another cherub now called Abaddon, the angel of death, to lead one-third of all angels with them.  That angel had been the Angel of Life.  All those angels had their names stripped from them so completely that they do not remember them.  Only God knows Satan’s name.

Satan’s sin is the greatest because he was the cherub charged with protecting humans.  Instead, he led them away from God.

The scene ending this chapter is a visionary description of the constant worship of God.  Some who read this and similar passages conclude that Heaven will be boring, having to bow before God without ceasing.

We cannot forget that John records images of visions in poetic form.  Yes we will worship God, doing it as we talk, run, play, sing, eat, in short, in all we do in our new bodies in the New Jerusalem.

Friday, December 5, Revelation Chapter 5

Next I saw in the right hand of the One sitting on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” CJB

John enters the room to find weeping because no one is able to open the scroll with seven seals.  Clearly, God could open the scroll in his right hand, but that is not the point.  It is not for Him to open.  As we will soon learn, only the Messiah, God’s Son, is supposed to open it.  Think for example of a private in the army delivering a sealed envelope to the office of the general.  Neither the private nor the secretary would dare to open the envelope.

As to the scroll, it is important that it has writing on both sides.  We find this same image in Exodus 32:15.   Moshe turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets inscribed on both sides, on the front and on the backCJB  We need to know that this unusual form of writing on two sides was generally reserved for the marriage contract.

We often misunderstand the Exodus passage to mean that Moses brought the Ten Commandments down the mountain (think Charlton Heston).  Actually, what he carried was the first five books of the Bible, the Torah.  God writes small.

When John realized that the book (which is not the Book of Life as if often claimed) cannot be read by anyone there, I cried and cried, because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or look inside it.  One of the elders said to me, “Don’t cry. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Y’hudah, the Root of David, has won the right to open the scroll and its seven seals.” CJB  Only the Messiah could open the scroll legally because he is the Groom and the scroll is the Marriage Contract.

All ancient Jewish marriage contracts were signed by seven people, but only the groom was allowed to open it once it was signed.  The reason is that the contract contains information about the bride and even though the bride and groom helped write the contract and know what is in it, it is opened in public as a part of the wedding and read by the groom who then announces his bride to be pure and ready for marriage.

The marriage contract was generally written and signed a year before the marriage.  Thus it was that Joseph was faced with a difficult problem when he learned his bride was already pregnant.  In Matthew 1:19 we read,   Her husband-to-be, Yosef, was a man who did what was right; so he made plans to break the engagement quietly, rather than put her to public shameCJB  After an angel explained the details, he made a different choice.  Instead of simply canceling the engagement, suggesting he had a change of heart, he chose to open the contract and tell those gathered that he found Mary to be pure and ready for marriage, but only after he had paid a price equal to what she would have to pay for promiscuity.

At Christmas time, we slide right past this all important event.  Like Joseph, Jesus will stand in Heaven and read from the contract that you and I are pure and ready for The Marriage, even knowing our sins because he has already paid the price for those sins.  From our standpoint, reading the contract includes naming the Bride.  If my name is not there, I have a problem.

Then I saw standing there with the throne and the four living beings, in the circle of the elders, a Lamb that appeared to have been slaughtered. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the sevenfold Spirit of God sent out into all the earth.  He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the One sitting on the throneCJB  Our Groom come to read our Marriage Contract.

The angels said, You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals; because you were slaughtered; at the cost of blood you ransomed for God  persons from every tribe, language, people and nationCJB

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence