End Game: Part 11, A New Sheriff in Town – Revelation 11

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small—and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” (Revelation 11:17-18, NIV).

In the series of judgments described in Revelation 5-16– the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls of the wrath of God– there is always a break or intermission between the sixth and seventh judgment (Chapter 7-seals; Chapters 10-11-trumpets; the Chapter 12-14 interlude is before the sixth and seventh bowls in Chapter 16). Revelation 11 is a further elaboration of the interlude beginning in Chapter 10.

Chapter 11 opens with the measuring of the Temple of God. The idea of measuring communicates ownership, protection, and preservation. When this Temple is measured, it shows that God knows its every dimension.

It establishes that God is in charge of all things and all events on Earth now and in the future!

The sovereignty of God is one of the primary themes of the Book of Revelation. Revelation 11:17 uses the title Almighty for God. The Greek word for Almighty is pantokrater meaning one who has his hand on everything. Nine out of the ten times this word is used in the New Testament, it is used in Revelation.

The identity of this Temple is a matter of interpretation. Many see this Temple as symbolic of the Church. We won’t attempt to identify the temple except to say that the Temple is best understood to be a real temple on the earth, likely in Jerusalem.

The two witnesses described in vs. 3-12 are best understood to be two real individuals. But, who they are must not be important or we would have been told. Yet, their ministry may be representative of Old Testament figures such as Moses and Elijah in much the same way as John the Baptist ministered “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17, NIV).

This chapter reveals some details about the depths of unbelief and faithlessness into which the world sinks prior to its end.

Then, the seventh trumpet sounds to announce the inevitable resolution to this faith dilemma. “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (vs. 15).

In other words, there is absolute certainty about Jesus’ reign over the universe even before the fact is accomplished.

It’s like what happens in an election. When a new candidate is elected to a political office, there is great joy over the election results though it may be some time until the newly elected candidate is actually installed into office.

So, the present joy anticipates the inevitability of the future event.

You might even think of it this way. There’s going to be a new sheriff in town and He’s going to make some changes around here!

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. (Revelation 12:10, NIV)

End Game: Part 10, Good News/Bad News – Revelation 10

“So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, ‘Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey” (Revelation 10:9, NIV).

Inserted between the sixth and seventh trumpets is an interlude in Chapters 10-11. In the series of judgments described in Revelation 5-16– the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls of the wrath of God– there is always a break or intermission between the sixth and seventh judgment (Chapter 7-seals; Chapters 10-11-trumpets; the Chapter 12-14 interlude is before the sixth and seventh bowls in Chapter 16).

In the first part of this interlude John saw an angel he called a mighty angel coming down from heaven. The mighty angel planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land and gave a shout like the roar of a lion. John’s description of this mighty angel–rainbow above his head, face like the sun, shout like the roar of a lion–certainly represents the power of God and dominion over all creation in a way that is distinctive from most other angelic appearances.

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End Game: Part 9, Literally True – Revelation 8-9

“The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the side. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed” (Revelation 8:8-9, NIV).

The devastation caused by the eruption of the Laki volcanic fissure in Iceland in 1783 was felt globally for years after the event. The Laki eruption lasted for 8 months, emitting toxic gases that poisoned crops and killed 60 per cent of Iceland’s grazing livestock. The volcano released enough SO2 to cause acid rain and global temperatures to drop.

The eruption resulted in a famine that killed over 10,000 Icelandic people, roughly a quarter of the country’s population at the time. As Laki’s toxic eruption traveled south, it killed 23,000 in Britain and caused a famine in Egypt. Some environmental historians believe the European famine caused by the eruption may have been a catalyst for the French Revolution.

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End Game: Part 8, Revelation Hermeneutics – Revelation 8-16

Image from Revelation Diagram blog post by Bob Thune, http://www.bobthune.com/2011/04/revelation-diagram/

When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Revelation 8:1, NIV).

At this point in Revelation John has witnessed Jesus open six of the seven seals of judgment seen on the scroll in heaven (Revelation 5:1–5). After the opening of the sixth seal and its consequences, John described the sealing of 144,000 Jewish believers, listed by their tribe. This was followed by a vision of an enormous crowd of people of every possible race and language, worshiping God in heaven (Revelation 7).

Then, the seventh seal was opened.

Now, in Revelation 8:1 there is silence in heaven.

This verse is a pivotal point that affects our understanding of the following chapters–our Revelation hermeneutics (interpretation of the text).

There are at least two ways to read and interpret the remainder of the Book of Revelation.

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End Game: Part 7, The Great Revival – Revelation 7

End Game: Part 7, The Great Revival – Revelation 7

“Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ (Revelation 7:13-14, NIV).

The opening of the seven-sealed scroll in Revelation Chapter 6-8 is the beginning of the end of the world as we know it! As each seal is opened, the scroll is unrolled a little more, revealing the series of judgments God has in store.

Revelation 7 is an interlude in the events taking place. This interruption in the apocalyptic events is to explain God’s program of grace and salvation during the coming tribulation. The “pause” may occur before the opening of the seals or after the first six seals have already run their course and before the seventh seal is opened. Either interpretation is consistent with the apocalypse as God’s final altar call.

The winds in 7:1 represent the already started judgment of Earth and the four angels who hold them back pause the Great Tribulation until God’s special servants can be sealed. These four angels appear to be holding back the physical destruction of Earth (or a portion of Earth) that occurs with the opening of the seventh seal.

The identification of the 144,000 in 7:4-8 has been much discussed. Most Bible scholars either regard the 144,000 as the church or as converted Jews who are still identified as Israelites in some manner.

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End Game: Part 6 Cont., Is the CoronaVirus Pandemic the Fulfillment of Revelation Prophecies? – Revelation 6

“When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, ‘Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!’ When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:5-8, NIV).

Right in the middle of a devotional series on the Book of Revelation that I have been posting the last several weeks, the world has suddenly been struck with a worldwide pandemic–the Coronavirus and a significant downturn in the global economy.

It almost seems providential that I just posted a devotional on the opening of the seven seals, which reveals a series of worldwide calamities that will take place at the beginning of the end of the world as we know it!

The third seal in Revelation 6 unleashes a rider on a black horse causing economic collapse across the world possibly due to drought and food shortages. During the opening of the fourth seal power is given to the rider of a pale horse over a fourth of the world to kill people by sword, famine and plague!

These prophecies seem to beg the question, “Is the CoronaVirus pandemic the fulfillment of end-time prophecies described in Revelation 6?

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End Game: Part 6, The Beginning of the End – Revelation 6

“Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (Revelation 6:15-17, NIV).

At this point in the Revelation story, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, is about to open or unseal a seven-sealed scroll, which is purported to be the title deed to the world. The seven seals are part of a series of end-times judgments from God.

The opening of the seven-sealed scroll in Revelation Chapter 6 is the beginning of the end of the world as we know it!

As each seal is opened, the scroll is unrolled a little more, revealing the series of judgments God has in store.  It’s likely that each of the calamities described with the opening of each seal leads to the next calamity.  Political corruption leads to war, which leads to economic collapse, which leads to pandemics and famine, which leads to the death of many, many people on the earth.

The opening of the first four of the seven seals release what is known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, because the judgments appear symbolically as a horse and rider bringing devastation in their wake.

The first seal introduces the antichrist onto the scene as a rider of a white horse. He comes under the pretense of bringing peace to the world. He is given a crown indicating he will exercise great authority. But, the bow he holds reveals his intent on conquest.

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End Game: Part 5, The Worthy One – Revelation 5

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals, and I saw a might angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?’(Revelation 5:1-2, NIV).

In Revelation Chapters 4 and 5 John received a sneak-peek into the heavenly throne room of God prior to viewing the apocalyptic events he will describe in Chapters 6-20.

Chapter 4 established that redemption is the grand master plan of God for the universe. Chapter 5 revealed the Worthy Redeemer, the One who consummates the redemption master plan.

Chapter 4 declared the worthiness of God for conceiving the great redemption plan. Chapter 5 proclaimed the worthiness of the Redeemer for accomplishing the great redemption plan!

After seeing God sitting on a throne continuously worshiped by twenty-four elders and four living creatures who surrounded the throne, John noticed that God was holding a scroll sealed with seven seals and with writing on both sides (inside and outside).

The symbolism here is fairly straightforward. The double-sided scroll represents the title deed to the inhabited world with the legal, signed title written and sealed on the inside and the abstract or description of the document written on the outside.

The seven seals signify the absolute inviolability of the scroll. Only the ones who had their seals engraved on a document were allowed to open it. And, the seals had to be broken before the contents of the scroll could be revealed.

The seven-sealed scroll establishes God’s intention to reclaim the world as the final act in his redemptive purpose. And, it becomes apparent that God’s redemptive efforts will include not only the final redemption of His people but also the judgment and overthrow of evil, specifically, the Devil or Satan, who has been in control of the world since the Fall in Genesis 3.

If we stand by this interpretation that the seven-sealed scroll represents the title deed to the world, then the opening of the seven seals represents precursors to the end of the world. God intends to reclaim a world which has been infiltrated by evil and the final stage of this reclamation will come with the climactic events described in Revelation 6-20.

Because it was a double-sided scroll with its description on the outside, John likely understood what the scroll contained. He was, therefore, deeply saddened as it seemed to him that no one had the supreme qualifications to execute it (vs. 3-4).

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End Game: Part 4, Casting Crowns – Revelation 4

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this(Revelation 4:1, NIV).

Meta tauta is Greek for “After this” and is repeated twice in Revelation 4:1.

If the letters to the seven churches in Chapters 2-3 are indicative of the the Church Age, then meta tauta possibly refers to what occurs after the Church Age. The first meta tauta  seems to mean “after having seen the previous visions” while the second meta tauta seems to mean “after the fulfillment of the previous visions.” Some interpret “Come up here” and this second meta tauta to refer to the rapture of the Church.

But, it is important not to force the book of Revelation into a literal, historical interpretive grid by overlaying the events of our day into the details of this ancient apocalyptic book. Revelation is not meant to be a primer on how and when the Apocalypse will occur but is  better interpreted through the framework of the redemptive plan of God at work in human events.

What John sees in Chapters 4 and 5 provides a context for the apocalyptic events of Chapters 6-20. John received a sneak-peek into the celestial control room. The door into the heavenly sanctuary and the throne room of God was left open for John to peer in. What John saw in the heavenly sanctuary was akin to what some of his prophetic predecessors experienced and observed (see, Isaiah 6:1-5 and Ezekiel 1).

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End Game: Part 3, Church Counsel – Revelation 2-3

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:19-20, NIV).

In Revelation 1:4 John identifies who he is writing his Revelation to–the seven (primary) churches in the province of Asia (often called Asia Minor).  Today,  this region comprises much of modern Turkey.

What’s significant about this region is that it would be key to the expansion of Christianity in the Roman empire.

Again, in Revelation 1:11 John identifies his target audience and this time names the the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

After identifying Jesus as/with Daniel’s “Ancient of Days” in Chapter 1 John is then commanded to write down “what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” Some interpret this command to mean: (1) what has taken place in the historical past; (2) what is taking place in the present; and (3) what will take place in the future.

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