Over the course of three weeks I was asked to do a personal bible study on Revelation with one fellow, while a second began asking questions about the “beasts” in Revelation 13, which made me think I need to have a better understanding about the book of Revelation.
Do you realize that this book, written by John, is: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, so that he could tell his servants what must happen soon. Albert Barnes, in his commentary states: “The word rendered “Revelation” - Ἀποκάλυψις , whence we have derived our word “Apocalypse” - means properly is, nakedness; from ἀποκαλύπτω apokaluptō, to uncover. It would apply to anything which had been covered up be bidden from the view, as by a veil, a darkness, in an ark or chest, and then made manifest by removing the covering. It comes then to be used in the sense of disclosing or revealing, by removing the veil of darkness or ignorance. “There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed.” It may be applied to the disclosing or manifesting of anything which was before obscure or unknown.”
The things in the book were meant to be known, and we are in the time of unveiling. As my grandpa used to say, “” when he was slightly agitated or trying to get a point across. I am tired of hearing, “no one can really understand the book of Revelation”, and they say this as though they are the source of all wisdom. You do not understand because you are not applying yourself to understanding, or you just do not want to. A friend of mine essentially tells me, it is all too scary and I just do not want to know. That I can understand, but it is our hope and faith that is meant to carry us through. What do think is giving those Christians that live in places where the governing bodies condone the horrendous violence against them, the strength to make it through another day? Hope and faith. Now ask yourself, when was the last time a bible teacher tried to strengthen your hope?
Do a word search on hope; Paul centers on it because God does. In his letter to the church at Rome Paul explains to them (I am pulling from several translations as each has a piece of clarity I want you to see.):
Romans 8:17-18 And if we are children, we have a right to a part in the heritage; a part in the things of God, together with Christ; so that if we have a part in his pain, we will in the same way have a part in his glory. (18) I am there is no comparison between the pain of this present time and the glory which we will see in the future. 8:19 Everything that God made is waiting with excitement for the time when he will show the world who his children are. The whole world wants very much for that to happen. 8:20-21 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope (21) that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Adam's transgression in the garden (he was told not to eat off that tree and yet he did – with a full knowledge and understanding – a treasonous act) brought down the house on everything. Is it possible that God intended for this to happen? I believe He knew and coordinated it into his plan to restore all things back to his original plan.
Have you ever thought, how could I serve or live under a God that manipulates things in this way? It has crossed my mind, but then I look back at who and what Adam was before the fall. There he was with his wife in the most peaceful and contented state a human could live in. NO mental health issues, and no one wanting to kill you, merely for fun. Even after the fall, Jesus walks in the garden, the creator of the universe, and asks – out of respect – where Adam was. I strongly suspect that a person who can walk through walls can see through trees, and yet He still had respect for the man he created. He gave Adam free will, just as we have, because He hoped for a relationship of mutual trust, love and respect.
Our hope is based in the faith that this will all be restored, and it will. You should of course understand the idea behind an apologetic. It is the defense of the gospel, and no, we are not apologizing for anything. However in showing the world that God's word is true, we present evidence. The evidence is that which tends to stand up in court, such as:
- Physical evidence – He rose from the dead, walked through walls, walked on water, and rose up into heaven – all as he said he would. Physical evidence also includes things like the dead sea scrolls.
- There is the testimony of credible witnesses. Paul tells us that he had first hand accounts from men that walked with Jesus. After Jesus rose from the dead he was seen by over four hundred people (I believe the number is 500 but I thought I would be conservative.)
- And documentation. It is clearly understood that the new believers had a common, written creed passed among the new and growing church, within months, along the lines of – We believe, and it stated the common evidence. The gospels were written within forty years of Jesus death. While things like the Greek philosophers were written somewhere around sixteen hundred years after their death. How good is your memory after that long? Documentation also falls under the physical evidence category, but one of those is the Codex .
I admit I am not an apologist, if I was I would have given you precise information, but hopefully you get the idea. We have a hope and it is based on valid evidence. Evidence feeds our faith, and faith gives us hope. We were told that He is coming back for us and we would live with Him in eternity. Well that will happen, one way or the other. We were told that we would be spared from God's wrath, and we will, but that in no way guarantees you that the world, under the power of evil people, would come crashing down on you. If you don't believe that just ask our dead Christian brothers and sisters in the Mid East. He will come for those who await Him, and then, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be healed and whole.
Now, can we jump into Revelation 13:2 and this dragon that is giving it power to something?
Revelation 13:2 And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and its feet like those of a bear, and its mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him its power and its seat and great authority.
This imagery meant much to the Jewish reader, because they knew Daniel's prophecy.
Daniel 7:3-7 And four great beasts came up from the sea, different from one
another. (4) The first was like a lion and had eagle's wings. I watched until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on its feet like a man. And a man's heart was given to it. (5) And behold another beast, a second, like a bear. And it raised itself up on one side, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said this to it: Arise, eat up much flesh. (6) After this I saw, and lo, another, like a leopard, which had four wings of a bird on its back. The beast also had four heads; and rulership was given to it. (7) After this I looked in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, frightening and terrifying, and very strong. And it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the rest with its feet. And it was different from all the beasts before it; and it had ten horns.
Daniel wondered what these things were and so the angel explains.
Daniel 7:15-18 I Daniel was distressed in my spirit in its body, and the visions of my head troubled me. (16) And I came near one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the meaning of the things. (17) These four great beasts are four kings; they shall arise out of the earth. (18) But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom and the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.
Now here is the question I want to ponder. Since "the dragon gave him its power and its seat and great authority" who is the dragon and who is he giving this power and authority to.
Satan told Jesus that "all this" was his to give. Jesus did not argue the point.
Matthew 4:8-9 Again, the Devil took Him up into a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. (9) And he said to Him, All these things I will give You if You will and worship me.
What we see in Revelation 12:3-4 is Satan.
Revelation 12:3-4 And another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads! (4) And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman being about to bear, so that when she bears he might devour her child.
Satan claimed, in the time of the Savior, all power over the kingdoms of the world, and asserted that he could give them to whomsoever he pleased. See the notes on Mat_4:8-9.
But we have a problem as we attempt to understand and it comes through translation.
There is no him in Revelation 13:2. Not one of these has been defined as a man as yet. Moreover, if I take this literally, we still are dealing with symbology that sounds like it was pulled out of mythology.
Young's Literal translation reads more appropriately:
Revelation 13:2 and the beast that I saw was like to a leopard, and its feet as of a bear, and its mouth as the mouth of a lion, and the dragon did give to it his power, and his throne, and great authority.
By operating under the idea that Satan is giving direct power to a man, then we go looking for a man, and that may not be the case – as yet. Since we know that we are dealing with fallen empires, then lets see if we can pick out an empire that fits the description of “it.”
One of the clues we have comes from Daniel.
Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Was the Messiah cut off? Absolutely; this was Jesus Christ and they put him on a cross and he was buried. (We know he rose again on the third, but that is not relevant to the discussion at the moment.) What is important for us is the timing we see in Daniel's prophecies.
The passage states: “after threescore and two seeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself”. As a stand alone sentence we only get 62 weeks out of the seventy that were declared to Daniel. The previous verse gives us seven more weeks of years and I will show you.
Daniel 9:25-26 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Now we have seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks, equaling sixty-nine weeks. 69X7=483 years. However Daniel 9:24 tells us that the entire length of the time period is seventy weeks. 70X7=490 years. This leaves us with an undefined gap in time, but that is not for this discussion.
Allow me to give you a quick way of comprehending what this idea of weeks is all about.
As Israel wandered in the desert God gave them commands, it really amounted to a sort of retraining process for Israel, as they were deeply embedded in idolatry and the ways of the nations. Very few of them knew God. In order to get their attention they were told that during a given seven-year period, and he told them when that started, they were to work the land for six years and let it rest for the seventh. To disregard this command brought punishment, and Israel was seventy years in captivity because of their disregard. Hence, a week (7) of years. The Jewish mind got this immediately.
You should have picked on the fact the sixty-nine weeks came and went. Jesus was crucified, but not as an aspect of the seventieth week. How do I know that? Pay attention here:
Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
So, the defining things that make the seventieth week are:
- To finish the transgressionWhat does it mean to finish transgression? Assuming that you are a believer may falsely tell me that you understand that Christ died and rose again for the purpose of forgiving sin (all of them) and bringing us into the kingdom of God as a part of His body. Having done that one might say the transgression is finished. Common sense tells you that transgression is still running rampant.This is where taking the time to look at the origins of the words comes in handy because the phrase, “to finish transgression” in the Hebrew, gives us more leeway for understanding because of the meaning of the words. Finish is the Hebrew word ' and means to restrict, while transgression is the Hebrew word ' and means revolt.Can we extrapolate and eventually find evidence that the revolt is restricted in the earth? Perhaps once we consider the impact Christ makes on the life of dedicated follower. Even though Christ death was all-encompassing, relieving everyone on earth from sin, nothing about this act changes the heart; that only happens when you accept Christ into your life. Sadly though, people still continue to sin, and the world certainly does. I would say in general that the revolt has yet to be restricted.When will that happen? First, when Jesus comes back to earth and sets the martyred Saints up as judges. I suspect that there will low tolerance for revolt during this time. I might consider this the end of transgression. The true end will be at the end of the millennial reign when Satan will be permanently done away with as we enter eternity.
- To make an end of sinsThis is essentially the same response as the answer I gave for transgressions. You have to think through the scenarios scriptures gives us, for during the millennial reign people will still have to come before the Lord and bow in worship. Failure to do that will result in punishment or death at the second infraction. Obviously sin or can we say revolt will still be a problem. If I can take the actions of the cross
- To make reconciliation for iniquityThe word reconciliation is the Hebrew word , and means to cover. Ask yourself, in light of the cross, was iniquity covered? The answer is yes, but still to this day we preach about sin, as though the cross and Jesus death was not enough.
- To bring in everlasting righteousnessEverlasting is the Hebrew word , and means: properly concealed, that is, the vanishing point. Where is the vanishing point? After the 1000 years as we migrate into eternity.
- To seal up the vision and prophecyTo seal up seems self-explanatory, but it also means to close up. God is closing the prophecy. The word vision is the Hebrew and means: a sight (mentally), that is, a dream, revelation, or oracle: - vision. Clearly all this takes us to the end of time.
- And to anoint the most Holy.I recently got accused of putting the cart before the horse, as I responded to a question addressed to the bible study group. In a way this feels the same way, but is it? We see Jesus doing this very thing to the heavenly places. It is possible, even likely that there will be a final crowning ceremony in heaven at the end. How appropriate that would be.Hebrews 9 tells us Jesus entered into heaven itself and cleansed the holy place. He did this once for all time.Hebrews chapter one implies that Jesus has already sat down, anointed by God.
The transitional return to the seventieth week is initiated by the Antichrist person signing the peace treaty for the seven-year period. Many might ignore this but the time covers the entire time of wrath.
I do not believe we will be here to see this signing, but maybe. I was asked when we will know who the Antichrist personage is, and my response was, probably not until he signs the peace treaty. Turn your life over to Christ now, and you to can have a hope and future with Him.