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Posted By Nan

Revelation 10:1-11
A mighty angel comes, one who has a rainbow for a halo, straddles the earth and sea and carries a little scroll. Unlike the previous scrolls, this one’s contents are to remain secret. Thunder comes after the angel speaks, a symbol of divine punishment and judgement. What the thunder said was not to be disclosed by John. The time for hearing those words has not yet come. In verse 9 John is instructed to eat the scroll, which will taste sweet in his mouth and curdle in his stomach. This is a parallel to Ezekiel 2:8-3:3. The words are to be taken in and studied. The end is sweet and wonderful, but what is to come before that is not so pleasant. John is instructed to prophesy, although he is by now old and imprisoned on Patmos.
The prophesy of Revelation was not given to him merely to gratify his own curiosity or give him a sense of pleasure or pain at what was to come but to be communicated by him to the world. We have to be careful that we do not turn words from God into something to serve us, but instead revere those words as from God and give them respect, not seeking self but God and His glory. If God gives you a prophesy and people ignore it, do not worry or be upset. If people reject God’s word given by you it is not you they reject, but God and they will have to deal with God.
God identified to John that he was to take on the role of prophet, despite his advanced age and imprisonment. After this prophesy he writes Revelation and probably the Gospel of John. His gospel has a more advanced theology than the other gospels, perhaps as a result of the revelations given to him.
There is much understanding to be gained from these two books and also much to not understand, especially in Revelation. The meaning of Revelation is unclear and that is deliberately so. We understand that God has a plan. We understand that the culmination of that plan will involve judgement and the end of this earth. The culmination of God’s plan will involve persecution and judgement. The meaning of some parts of Revelation will be revealed in God’s time, just as His judgement will come in His time. We cannot ignore the fact that judgement will come, but we cannot know when or exactly how it will be. What we must do is stand firm in our faith, trust God and know that His glory will be revealed to all the world at that time.

 

 
Posted By Nan

Revelation 9:1-21
This chapter is the first two trumpet blasts mentioned at the end of chapter 8. These lead to two events. The first is a star falling to earth that holds the key to the Abyss. This is long considered to be the dwelling place of satan and all demons. The key signifies that evil is under the control of God and can only act when He allows it. After the fifth trumpet blast the demons come out of the abyss as locusts with scorpion powers. Some commentators see this as a literal event and others see this as symbolic. The locusts are not allowed to harm anything on earth but humans who do not have the seal of God on them. They have no power to kill, just torment to the point where they will long to die but will not be able to. This torment is to last 5 months. Is this literal or symbolic? I do not know and no one does. The understanding of the apocalyptic writings has been lost. There are many who try to interpret the meanings but do we need to understand exactly what they mean?
The sixth trumpet blast results in the mighty angels mentioned in 7:1 being released from the four corners of the earth. They are to kill a third of mankind with fire smoke and sulphur. Again, is this literal or symbolic?
In considering this chapter I was directed to Psalm 69. This is a powerful psalm of a persecuted servant crying to God for deliverance. But he has to wait until the appointed time. God’s justice will come, but it is in His time and that time is the right time.
What I see in chapter 9 is the message that God will judge the people of the earth. All the earth, both physical and spiritual aspects, are under God’s control, even the powers of evil. God will direct those carrying out his judgements to do only what He allows. If you read the Old Testament there are many references to judgement coming on the people with the intention that this will lead to repentance. (A good example of this is Numbers 14 where the people are judged by God and some are killed. The rest repent. The judgement is on events that happened as far back of Exodus 32:34 when the people made a golden calf because Moses was in the Lord’s presence for too long.)
In time all will face judgement. And all are expected to repent. Yet we see in 20 and 21 that the people of the earth still do not repent. They continue to worship demons and idols made by human hands. They continue to murder, practice occult magic, be sexually immoral and steal. The judgements have not led to repentance. This means there will be more judgements. These are the end times and the time for judgement is running out.

 

 
Posted By Nan

Revelation 8:1-13
The action that follows now runs rapidly through several chapters. I am going to keep to Chapter 8 as it forms a natural ending for discussion.
At the start of the chapter, the seventh seal is opened.
There follows 30 minutes of silence in heaven. Why? There are many views, one that it is the silence of expectation. Another that it is to allow the prayers of the saints to be heard. In the Talmud there is the description of angels who sing praises by day and are silent by night to allow the prayers of the people to be heard. I suspect the silence is one of awe and quiet to allow the prayers of the people to be gathered up. This is particularly likely given that the next thing that happens is that an angel appears with a golden censer for burning incense. The angel gathers up the prayers of the Ekklesia and incense (or if you adhere to the Greek translation the prayers of the Ekklesia are the incense). The burning of the incense may be to make the prayers acceptable to God. Or perhaps Jesus is the incense that makes our prayers acceptable to God. Whatever it means, the prayers are there and are burned on the altar before the throne and go up before God.
The angel takes the censer, fills is with fire from the altar and hurls it to the earth. Why? Perhaps these were the answer to prayers for deliverance. This passage demonstrates the importance of prayer, often a neglected aspect of Christian life. If we don’t pray there will be no incense burned on the altar. We should be a praying people.
The seven angels have been given trumpets. The trumpet blasts are broken into two groups of 4 and 3. The first 4 are found in this chapter and are said to be reminiscent of the plagues of Exodus.
The first angel sounds his trumpet. Hail and fire mixed with blood is hurled to earth and burns up a third of the trees and all the grass of the earth. This is likened to Exodus 9:24. The second trumpet causes a huge mountain like object that is fully on fire to be thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turns to blood, reminiscent of Exodus 7:20-21, and a third of all sea life and ships are destroyed. Continuing on from this, a great star falls from the sky and renders a third of the rivers and springs bitter causing many people to die. The star is named Wormwood meaning Calamity and Sorrow.
The fourth trumpet causes a third of the sun, moon and stars to be darkened and a third of the day and night are also darkened. This is a parallel to Exodus 10:21-23.
The Egyptian plagues were intended to punish Egypt for not releasing the Hebrews from slavery and also as demonstrations of God’s might. The proper response to them would have been for the Egyptians to recognise who God is and turn to him (as well as releasing the Hebrews). Perhaps this is what these events are designed to do?
At the end of the fourth trumpet call an eagle flies about the earth warning the people of the three blasts to come that will be worse than the previous four. It is quite likely this call is directed at the unrepentant who have not turned from their worship of idols and continue to sin. The end is coming and God is giving all people a chance to be saved.

 

 
Posted By Nan

Revelation 7:1-17
This chapter starts with a description of four angels standing guard at the four corners of the earth, holding back mighty winds that will destroy the earth. Some commentators consider this is representative of faulty doctrine that will corrupt believers with its misinformation.
Whatever it is, a fifth angel appears and tells the four angels to wait until God has sealed His servants. This suggests that whatever the winds are to destroy, God chooses when they will come. Also, before they come, He will ensure those who belong to Him are protected from the destruction.
The 5th angel is said to place a seal on a total of 144,000 from the tribes of Israel. There is much discussion amongst commentators on the reason the tribe of Dan is omitted from the 12 and Manasseh (who is covered by Joseph) is included. Also Judah is placed first in the list even though he was not the first born son. Some commentators consider this number is symbolic and represents all believers, others believe it is symbolic of the tribes of Israel and contrast this number to the multitudes of gentiles who are saved out of the great tribulation (v14). Some consider these numbers represent people saved from a great tribulation that is said to come at the end, just before Jesus’ return. Others consider the great tribulation is the period after Jesus first return to heaven and was occurring during the time John wrote this book.
I know that a lot of time is spent arguing about the great tribulation and there is much division on this subject. There are many who believe they have to prepare physically for this time and stockpile large amounts of food for the expected time of tribulation. I don’t care what the exact meaning of Revelation is and if tribulation will come or is already here. I also don’t care what form the tribulation in the future is to take. Wanting to know these things suggests lack of trust in God. It is as though people need to control their worlds because they don’t believe Jesus will provide for them, despite His promises to do just that. What is important to me is to seek Jesus and seek to follow Him and be transformed into His likeness as I hand over my “rights” to self and taken on Jesus instead. This is the most important task God has set for us to do. Interpreting His word is not what He has asked of us.
In this chapter John seeks to reassure those reading that they need not fear the judgement because God will protect them. So stop worrying about how the prophesies in Revelation will play out. There are more important messages in Revelation than these. Trust God and focus on following Jesus. This is the most important message Revelation has to give.

 

 
Posted By Nan

Revelation 6:1-17
In this chapter Jesus opens the seals and the coming Judgement of God is announced. We cannot totally understand the symbolism of what is written but this is what it describes:
The first four seals reveal riders on different horses. Zechariah 1:8-17 and 6:1-8 also describe these horses. It is worthwhile reading these verses in Zechariah.
The first horse is white, symbolising conquest. Psalm 45:4-5 speaks of riding forth victoriously in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness. You must let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies and let the nations fall beneath your feet. There is much discussion on what this means, and some believe the rider of this horse is Jesus. This horse will overcome the nations apparently as a preparation for judgement.
The second horse is red, symbolising war and bloodshed. This horse will take the peace from the earth and men will slaughter each other. This has an echo in Mark 13:7-8 which talks of the times approaching the end where there will be wars and men killing each other.
The third horse is black and symbolises famine. Its rider carries scales in his hand. There are many opinions on what the symbolism means, but the important message here appears to be that famine will occur and the severity of that famine will be suggested by the amount of food available for each person. The amounts listed in these verses are inadequate to meet the daily needs of an adult.
The next horse is pale, symbolising death. Death rides the horse and is closely followed by Hades (the realm of the dead). This horse will come with authority to kill a quarter of all the people on earth through violence, starvation, diseases and predation. What is the purpose of this? It appears to be a judgement on the earth.
The fifth seal reveals those who have died for the gospel of Jesus. These are the martyrs waiting to be avenged and praying to God asking when it will happen. It is a good reminder for all of us that persecution we face, especially when it results in death, will not go unpunished. A good encouragement for us as we move through life.
The sixth seal reveals the destruction of the physical earth. There will be earthquakes, eclipses of the sun and moon and stars will fall from the sky. This is seen to herald the second coming of Jesus. Isaiah 34:1-4 gives a good description of this.
The people of the earth will hide from God’s judgement. (See Isaiah 2:10, 19-21 for a description of this). The verses end with the question “Who can stand it?”
The answer is that the Ekklesia need not fear the judgement because God will protect them. We will be judged but the payment for our sins has already been made by Jesus.
It is important to note Mark 13. Jesus warns the disciples to be wary of ones who seek to deceive them. He warns that many will come in His name and claim they are Him or from Him. We will see wars but that does not mean the end is immediately imminent. The day of judgement will take as long as it needs to come. We will see wars, many and numerous and we will face persecution for a long time. But one thing Jesus wanted us to know (22-26) No one knows when the day of judgement will come. It will come unexpectedly. So we are to resist the temptation to predict its coming or seek for the signs. Revelation is extremely unclear and that is deliberate. We are to know a time is coming but it is not our place to know when. We are to continue in our faith and focus on submitting to Jesus and putting ourselves aside in favour of Him. Whatever happens in the world does not affect our walk with Jesus. Our relationship with God through Jesus is what matters and will be our saving grace on the day of Judgement. So forget about predicting the end times or physically preparing for them! Spiritually prepare for them instead and you will not be caught unprepared when that time comes.

 

 


 
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Nan
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