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Interpreting The Book of Revelation

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Guest shiloh357

Interpreting The Book of Revelation

Obviously, the book of Revelation is apocalyptic and its primary focus is the events that take place at the end of this present age. The book of Revelation is not a book of doom and gloom. What is lost on many people is that the book of Revelation is meant to instill hope and assurance in the final outcome and that the Kingdom of God will be victorious over the kingdom of the enemy. The book of Revelation has three basic purposes:

1. To add the Old Testament’s eschatology. The Book of Revelation is not a stand-alone document in terms of prophecy. It must be understood in tandem with the end-time prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Daniel, etc.

2. To edify Believers: This was needed especially at a time when believers were undergoing fierce persecution from the Roman authorities. They needed to be assured of the final victory of the Kingdom of God.

3. To reveal Christ as King. The book of Revelation shows us Christ returning to earth as the conquering King-Messiah, setting up His reign on the throne of David and beginning His eternal reign from His temple in Israel.

The central theme of the book of Revelation is Jesus’ second coming. W. Hall Harris in His treatise on the theology of the book of Revelation in the book entitled, A Biblical Theology Of The New Testament makes the following observation:

“From John's initial vision of the exalted Christ in chapter 1 to the establishment of the new heavens and the new earth in chapter 22, the central message of the book concerns the return of Christ and the consummation of His rule. In spite of suffering, persecution, and even martyrdom, God's people ultimately share in Christ's triumph. This message of encouragement and reassurance is as applicable to the church today as it was toward the close of the first century. Christians may rest assured that they are on the winning side; no earthly or demonic powers will be able to resist the victorious Christ when He returns.”

The problem with how many people treat the book of Revelation and Bible prophecy in general stems from the perceived need to identify particulars. They try to identify through conjecture and presumption things for which we do not have enough light. This true in terms of the rapture questions, the identity of the anti-Christ/beast/false prophet, the identity of Mystery Babylon, as well as the identity of the nations mentioned in the text.

It is important to keep in mind that geography has changed a lot since John wrote the book of Revelation. Names of countries have changed. There are countries today that did not even exist in John’s day. To give a relevant example, the “Syria” of the Bible is not the same as “Syria” today. The nation of Ethiopia today is not the same as “Ethiopia” in the Bible. There are at least three cities that go by the name Jericho. Modern Jericho is not the same as the Jericho in Jesus’ day and certainly not the same as the Jericho in the day of Joshua. You simply cannot assume that modern cities and nations that bear the name of biblical cities and nations are what John or any other biblical writers had in mind when they penned their texts. Many people are misidentifying end-time players because they mistakenly assume that modern nations that go by biblical names are the same nations identified by the original biblical writers.

Symbols are objective, but they are often treated subjectively. It is important that what we perceive a symbol to mean may not be what it meant in the days of the apostles. There is a wide cultural/historical gap between the 1st century peoples and us and that has to be factored into how we handle the text. Furthermore, there is the issue of the intention ambiguity of biblical prophecy. There are some things that are hidden from for a reason and instead of trying to fill in the blanks, instead of trying to make some modern nation fit the description we see in the text, we need to simply be willing to accept the reality that we do not know.

One of the worst things you can do is accuse someone of being the anti-Christ or the beast. It is a horrible thing to say about someone. Equally horrible is trying to peg down this or that nation as “Babylon.” The truth is that we need to stop obsessing over the particulars and simply accept the book of Revelation for what it is. There are limitations to what we can know about the end times. The Lord gives us enough light to fulfill the purpose He intends for the book of Revelation to have in our lives. The book of Revelation will, until the Lord deems otherwise be a partially closed book to us. The end times will blossom as God intends. There is an inherent danger in trying to create a theology and worldview over misguided attempts to decipher the end-times in areas that we are simply lacking the light from the Lord to be dogmatic and objective.

What we do know is that Jesus will return at the end of the tribulation and establish His Kingdom and begin His reign for 1,000 years. It is the final fulfillment of many OT passages that describe this period of Christ’s reign (Ps. 2; 24; 72; 96; Isa. 2; 9:6-7; 11-12; 63:1-6; 65-66; Jer. 23:5-6; 30:8-11; Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14; Hos. 3:4-5; Amos 9:11-15; Mic. 4:1-8; Zeph. 3:14-20; Zech. 8:1-8; 14:1-9 ). Satan is bound during this 1,000 year period (Rev. 20: 1-3) This is followed by Satan’s final assault on the Kingdom (vv. 7-10) and the Great White Throne Judgment, (vv. 11-15), which is followed by the consummation of all things in the New Heavens and New Earth. We have enough light from the Lord to know what He wants to know for sure.

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Guest shiloh357

Bible Prophecy is Not about the Church

One thing that needs to be pointed out, which no one has brought forth in any end-time prophecy threads is that the Church is not the subject of either OT prophecy or NT apocalyptic literature. Biblical prophecy is singularly concerned with the Kingdom of God. According to Dr. E. W. Bullinger in his Commentary on Revelation, there is a five-fold division of Scripture:

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There would far more unity in the body of Christ if we simply accepted that we do not know what we do not know than to presume we have the skills to

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There would far more unity in the body of Christ if we simply accepted that we do not know what we do not know than to presume we have the skills to

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I admit I've a long way to go toward truly understanding Scripture (maybe in the future when I retire) but I DID learn a few things from this. I've always wondered why so many try to make Revelation conform to their own beliefs. Great post, Shiloh. :cool:

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Bible Prophecy is Not about the Church

One thing that needs to be pointed out, which no one has brought forth in any end-time prophecy threads is that the Church is not the subject of either OT prophecy or NT apocalyptic literature. Biblical prophecy is singularly concerned with the Kingdom of God. According to Dr. E. W. Bullinger in his Commentary on Revelation, there is a five-fold division of Scripture:

"The whole Bible is divided into five great divisions, each determined by its subject-matter.

1. The Old Testament has for its subject the King and his coming Kingdom, in promise and prophecy.

2. The Four Gospels the Kingdom offered and rejected. The King crucified by Israel in the Land.

3. The Acts and earlier Pauline Epistles; the King and Kingdom re-offered (iii. 19-21); and rejected, by the Dispersion in Rome (Acts 28:25-26).

4. The Later Pauline Epistles. The Kingdom in abeyance. The King made Head over all things to the Church.

5. The Apocalypse. The Kingdom set up with Divine judgment, in Power-Glory. The King enthroned."

Bullinger correctly observes further:

"Then, during the fourth of these, we have the Epistles relating to the Mystery - the Church of God - during this present interval, while the King is in heaven and His Kingdom is in abeyance; and, while the preaching of "the gospel of the kingdom" is suspended, and "the gospel of the grace of God" is proclaimed. Of course, if there is no difference between these two pieces of "good-news," and the kingdom is the same thing as the Church or Body of Christ, then there is an end of the whole matter; not merely of our task, but of the Bible itself. For, if words do not mean what they say when used of a plain, literal, matter of fact like this, then words are useless for the purposes of revelation altogether. We have concealment and confusion in its place; and an Apocrypha instead of an Apocalypse."

Too often people have erroneously tried to make everything in end time prophecy about the Church. The cherubim, the living creatures, the 24 elders, the 144,000 witnesses, the woman clothed with the sun, her man-child, the great multitude, the bride, the New Jerusalem, even John himself have been interpreted as "the church" by many commentators and it really makes for a very confusing approach to end-time prophecy, especially the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is much, much easier to read when read within the context of Kingdom of God. Reading it in that manner is much more compatible with it Hebraic character. The book of Revelation is the most "Jewish" thing John wrote. In John's gospel, he uses no Aramaic, but does utilize Aramaic phrases.

Professor Godet in his Studies on the New Testament, says, p. 331:

"The only serious objection that can be urged against the authenticity of the Apocalypse, lies in the difference which is observable between its style, and that of the fourth Gospel. The latter is free from Aramaic expressions, the former is saturated with them." And again (p. 351), "the Apocalypse bears, from one end of it to the other, the character of a Hebrew prophecy."

There would far more unity in the body of Christ if we simply accepted that we do not know what we do not know than to presume we have the skills to "crack the code" so to speak. We need to accept the boundaries of our limitations in terms of what can and cannot or not permitted to know at this time. We need to stop making assumptions about what the Bible says and then try to interpret the Bible to fit our assumptions.

I am such a literalist at times! Perhaps here as well... but Our Lord said this to us-

Matt 6:34

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

NKJV

combined with this teaching of instruction

Luke 16:10-12

10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

NKJV

we look ahead because of curiosity, perhaps preparedness but in the literal sense maybe in disobedience... when we combine the understanding of the above directives even that which is set aside for fire and destruction has required faithfulness to God in its purpose in the minutes detail here and now... its is a possible addition to what you have spoken of above... Love Steven

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.....What we do know is that Jesus will return at the end of the tribulation and establish His Kingdom and begin His reign for 1,000 years. It is the final fulfillment of many OT passages that describe this period of Christ's reign (Ps. 2; 24; 72; 96; Isa. 2; 9:6-7; 11-12; 63:1-6; 65-66; Jer. 23:5-6; 30:8-11; Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14; Hos. 3:4-5; Amos 9:11-15; Mic. 4:1-8; Zeph. 3:14-20; Zech. 8:1-8; 14:1-9 ). Satan is bound during this 1,000 year period (Rev. 20: 1-3) This is followed by Satan's final assault on the Kingdom (vv. 7-10) and the Great White Throne Judgment, (vv. 11-15), which is followed by the consummation of all things in the New Heavens and New Earth. We have enough light from the Lord to know what He wants to know for sure.....

Amen!

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:16-17

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I have removed many posts in this thread. I apologize to you if yours was one, but for the integrity of the thread felt it necessary in order to move forward.

This is an admonition to everyone involved in this thread - keep the posts directed at the topic only. Several have indicated interest in it so be mindful of them.

Thanks family.

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It is important to keep in mind that geography has changed a lot since John wrote the book of Revelation. Names of countries have changed. There are countries today that did not even exist in John’s day. To give a relevant example, the “Syria” of the Bible is not the same as “Syria” today. The nation of Ethiopia today is not the same as “Ethiopia” in the Bible. There are at least three cities that go by the name Jericho. Modern Jericho is not the same as the Jericho in Jesus’ day and certainly not the same as the Jericho in the day of Joshua. You simply cannot assume that modern cities and nations that bear the name of biblical cities and nations are what John or any other biblical writers had in mind when they penned their texts. Many people are misidentifying end-time players because they mistakenly assume that modern nations that go by biblical names are the same nations identified by the original biblical writers.

I agree that the borders of the nations change. Over the generations they have shrunk, expanded, incorporated, consumed. Still, though, aren't the core of the nations the same? When the bible speaks of Cush, or Tubal, isn't it speaking of the land inhabited by a man named Cush and Tubal? Therefore, wouldn't it be a people (government) instead of a specific land mass?

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I agree that the borders of the nations change. Over the generations they have shrunk, expanded, incorporated, consumed. Still, though, aren't the core of the nations the same? When the bible speaks of Cush, or Tubal, isn't it speaking of the land inhabited by a man named Cush and Tubal? Therefore, wouldn't it be a people (government) instead of a specific land mass?

My take on such things is to consider it a possibility, maybe even lean towards a preference with regards to interpreting, but not hold tightly to it.

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