Posts Tagged ‘book of life’

A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 19-20

January 22, 2013

Part One – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3

Part Two – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5

Part Three: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7

Part Four: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 8-9

Part Five: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 10-11

Part Six: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 12-13

Part Seven: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15

Part Eight: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 16-18

Rev 19 presents the stark contrast of two feasts, two responses and two rewards representing the fruits of two worldviews.  On one worldview, you are preparing for the most anticipated and blessed feast in history: the marriage supper of the Lamb; you have a spontaneous thunder of praise and adoration for the Messiah who made your attendance at that Millennium Kingdom feast possible; and you have the reward of a dazzling white robe as Jesus’ worshipers enter their new heavenly forever.  Representing the fruits of the other worldview is a grotesque feast of vultures feeding on the flesh of armies united against God (Rev 19:18); you have a hail of bullets, missiles and curses hurled at Jesus as He returns as King of kings and Lord of lords; and you have a river of blood and hundreds of millions of souls bound for hell to join the billions waiting for their sentence.  For sheer drama, it doesn’t get any better than that!

In terms of chronology, ch. 19 picks up where ch. 16 left off.  Recall that we saw hundreds of millions of demonized troops deployed along a battle line from Turkey to the Sinai Peninsula and attacking one another in a war of total annihilation.  Hundred pound hailstones are slamming into the earth, and most of the great cities on earth are leveled as the greatest earthquake in the history of the human race tears across the planet.  Jesus said if these days went on not one human being would be left alive (Matt 24:21-22).  As utterly hopeless as things look on earth, God is actually about to end the problem of human suffering.

In the eyes of unbelieving mankind, God is denounced as unreal until His existence is past undeniable; then He is blasphemed as unfair.  When sinful man suffers the just consequences of rejecting God’s grace and forgiveness through His Lamb, they will call Him unjust no matter how many times He was warned them.  This willful blindness and hardness of heart is seen in Rev 9:20, 21 and 16:21.  Contrast this with the attitude expressed in the fivefold hallelujahs as Christ prepares to return to earth as King of kings.  Rather than being unfair or unjust, Christ’s judgment is true and just (19:2).  As J. Vernon McGee put it, “You might have a better plan than God, but what you don’t have is your own universe.” Since Christ assumed a human nature so He could share in all the experience of humanity, and since Christ literally accepted the blame for every sin of every sinner who would confess His need for Christ’s free gift of salvation, Christ more than has the right to now judge the world who instead spat in His face.

Rev 19:7-10 presents the raptured Church as the bride who has made herself ready.  If we men don’t love the analogy as much as women, remember that we’ll all be like the angels in heaven (Mark 12:25); there’s no sexual context.  In heaven, ALL believers will be one in submitting to Christ – and resurrection believers will be united in their submission to Christ (Eph 5:22-24), NOT in “femininity.”  We’ll be dressed in the “fine linen, bright and clean” which will be made according to our “righteous acts” (19:8).  The lavishness of this robe will be determined by what we did on earth; we’re literally weaving our heavenly garment this very moment!  They may be elaborately studded with gold and silver and precious stones or they may smell like smoke from all the wood, hay and straw of our unspiritual lives on earth (1 Cor 3:10-15).  It’s all up to YOU.  But there is simply no question that God rewards us for our righteousness that comes from living our lives in faith and acting out that faith in our attitudes/conduct.

Here’s a good question: when does the wedding feast of the Lamb occur?  Jesus Himself tells us that He won’t drink wine with His disciples until He drinks it with us in His Father’s Kingdom (Matt 26:29).  And when is that?  At the beginning of the Millennium after the battle of Armageddon and the separation of the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:31ff).  I believe the Old Testament saints (who will be resurrected at the end of the Tribulation cf. Dan 12:2) will join Tribulation martyrs (Rev 20:4) as well as Raptured believers at this feast.  The guests of honor will be those Tribulation saints who survived.  Had you asked me prior to my study of this chapter, I would have confidently told you that this feast occurred in Heaven during the Tribulation.  But think of all the great company we’d miss out on if that were true!

John is so overwhelmed by all the glory he sees that he falls down before the angel – whom we were told in 18:1 “had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor” – who tells him to knock that junk off right away.  Because only God is EVER to be worshiped.  And THAT’S how we can know that Christ is no angel and no created being of ANY kind, but our Savior, our Lord, our God, and our Creator.  As beautiful and majestic as the angels are, Jesus is as superior to them (Heb 1:3-4) as He is to all of His creation (John 1:1-3,10, Colossians 1:16) which He also sustains (Heb 1:3) and holds together (Col 1:17).

If you want to shock yourself, enter the question in your search engine, “Will Jesus physically return to earth?” and note all the preterists who call themselves “Christians” who deny that He will.  They make Jesus out to be a liar (e.g. Matt 24:30).  Heb 9:28 assures us that Christ “WILL appear a second time.”  When Jesus Ascended, His disciples stood gawking up at Him as He was physically taken up to heaven until an angel appeared and told them, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).  We’re assured that Christ will first set foot on the Mount of Olives when He returns to earth (Zechariah 14:4-8).  Which btw is exactly where the disciples were standing when the angel told them to quit gawking at Jesus (Acts 1:12)!  And if all that isn’t clear enough, Rev 19 most certainly is.  And Jesus doesn’t just physically return to earth, He physically wipes out His enemies.  Jesus fulfills Isaiah 63:1-4 in singlehandedly destroying His enemies.  Our robes will be white (19:14); His will be red from treading the winepress (Isa 63:2-3 cf. Rev 19:15).  And so we say “buh-bye” to Antichrist and the false prophet.

So why is Satan bound for a thousand years only to be released in Rev. 20?  Just as God gives sinful man his chance to “have it his own way” in order to reveal in history that man simply cannot make it without Jesus Christ, so also does God give the human race in the Millennial Kingdom this “opportunity” to turn their backs on Jesus.  By releasing Satan, God demonstrates in human history that as long as man has a choice – even with Christ physically ruling over him in Jerusalem – sinful man will always choose evil.  Sin is not the unfortunate result of poverty or our environment; it is the result of our fallen nature apart from Christ.  And so even the Millennium Kingdom – as idyllic as it is compared with the world Christ just saved at the end of the Tribulation – is not ultimately adequate.  We need the ultimate state of heaven where God will confirm us in our righteousness and where no Satan can ever tread.  That’s why.

Again, marvel at the silliness of people who call themselves “Christians.”  SIX TIMES in Rev 20 we are told that this literal kingdom on earth will last for one thousand years.  In Latin, “mille” means “one thousand” and “annum” means, “year.”  One thousand years.  Did God promise such an earthly Kingdom?  Yes, repeatedly to His people the Jews.  The very heart of the Old Testament prophetic message is the coming of Messiah to set up an earthly kingdom over which He would rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem.  Will God fulfill His promises literally?  Yes, just as He always has before.  When God said Messiah would be born of a virgin, He was born of a virgin.  When God said Messiah would physically suffer and die, He physically suffered and died.  And when God says that Messiah would rule from Jerusalem for a thousand years, He will rule from Jerusalem for a thousand years.  In Acts 1:6 Jesus’ disciples asked if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel now.  Why would they have asked this if Jesus was NOT going to restore the kingdom to Israel?  Remember the Road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:27) where Jesus explained everything to the disciples?  That had already happened forty days BEFORE Acts 1:6; and Luke and Acts were both written by Luke to demonstrate that continuity.  But more importantly, why wouldn’t Christ have not corrected them and explained that they had it all wrong and there would never be such a kingdom for Israel to begin with?  This is not rocket science.  And yet it seemingly would be easier for some people to build a rocket ship and land it safely on the surface of the sun than to figure out that “a thousand years” means “a thousand years.”

So Satan is bound for how long?  A thousand years (Rev 20:2,3).  Which interestingly corresponds to the time between the revelation through Moses (~1400 BC) and the final OT revelation through Malachi (~400 BC).  The Messianic Kingdom prophesied in the Old Testament is a time of universal righteousness and peace (Isa 11:6-9), but that won’t happen if Satan is allowed to incite man to sin and to follow his base nature and defy God.  Basically, the Tribulation saints – including the 144,000 Jews and their Jewish converts who fled to Petra (see Rev 12:14) – who survive will inherit the Millennial Kingdom.  Every single human being on earth on Day One of the Millennium will be a saved believer.  But they will have children.  During the Millennium human beings will live an incredibly long time (see Isaiah 65:20 and understand that this prophecy makes no sense whatsoever apart from the Millennium Kingdom).  And some of these children will simply harden their hearts against Jesus just as we saw so many others do during the Tribulation.

We have the first resurrection – here composed entirely of believers who were martyred during the Tribulation (Rev 20:4-6).  This resurrection actually completes the fourth of four phases of this “first resurrection.”  Christ was the first fruits of this first resurrection (1 Cor 15:20-25).  In phase 2, raptured Christians living and dead received their resurrection bodies (1 Thess 4:13-18) before the Tribulation.  In phase 3 of this first resurrection the Old Testament saints receive their new bodies at the end of the Tribulation before the Millennium so they can see God’s Word to them LITERALLY FULFILLED and they could witness God’s faithfulness in their flesh (see Job 19:25-27).  That btw validates the 40 times the word “resurrection” is used in the New Testament, which is always a bodily resurrection (see John 5:28).

Near the end of the Millennium Satan is loosed and allowed to stir up what will be the very last rebellion in the entire history of the human race.  God will destroy it and throw Satan into hell for all eternity.

The second resurrection (Rev 20:11-15) consists ONLY in those whose names had not been written in the Book of Life.  They aren’t resurrected prior to the Millennium because they have no part in it and will have no part in anything other than hell.  Jesus – who spoke more about hell than ANYONE – told us there would be a resurrection of life and a resurrection of damnation (see John 5:29).  And it’s going to be at this time that God will respond, “I never knew you” to those who assure Him there must have been some kind of clerical error.  God will open up His Law and demonstrate how they ignored it (Gal 3:10).  And God will open up the Book of Works (Eccles 12:14) and show that they stand condemned as sinners.  And then He will open up the Book of Life and show that at no time did they ever truly accept His Son as Savior (John 3:18).  The entire meaning of life consists in FINDING life in the Son of God.

Part Ten: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 21-22

A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 12-13

January 1, 2013

See Part One – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3

Part Two – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5

Part Three: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7

Part Four: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 8-9

Part Five: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 10-11

In Rev 12:1-6 we see what has actually happened on earth being depicted as a great celestial battle.  “A great and wondrous sign” appeared, a miraculous signpost conveying the idea that men should look upon the woman and clearly see the hand of the God of the Bible in history.  Who is the woman? The nation/people of Israel.  Do you remember the dream (Gen 37:9-10) of the man who would become the Jewish patriarch who would father the twelve sons and establish the twelve tribes of Israel?  How the son, the moon and eleven stars would bow down before him?  Jacob correctly saw the sun symbolizing himself, the moon symbolizing Joseph’s mother Rachel and the eleven stars symbolizing his brothers.  Joseph’s dream, of course, came true.  We already have a powerful symbol of the woman as the nation Israel.  But the description of the woman continues: the “woman” gives birth “to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”  That is a reference to Psalm 2:9, which prophecies Messiah (see Rev 19:15).  And, again, if the woman is the mother of Messiah, who is she but Israel?  Christ will one day return as King of kings to rule with that rod, but after His Resurrection He was caught up by God in the Ascension; hence the reference “her Child was snatched up by God and to His throne.”  And we saw Messiah “standing in the center” of that throne in Rev 5:6.

What we find in this celestial drama is that Satan (the red dragon) possesses an irrational hatred of Israel and particularly of the Messiah Son she would bear.  I say “irrational” because, for example, God allowed the satanically-originated Holocaust in order to bring the world to the place where the nations would officially recognize the state of Israel.  Satan slaughtered Jews, but it was that very act of demonic hate that God sovereignly used to bring about the prophesied miracle of the state of Israel being born out of dead and dried bones (Eze 37).  Christ can be symbolized with red because of His own blood that He shed for us; this dragon is red only because of the bloodshed he has caused.  The dragon has seven heads and ten crowns; the seven heads is a reference to the plural “heads” of Leviathan (Ps 74:13) with the number “seven” referring to the seven successive world empires the dragon has controlled: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome – and Antichrist’s future empire (Rev 17:9-10).  The ten crowns – likely all worn on the seventh head – represent the ten kingdoms Antichrist will dominate.

Rev 12:7-12 describes an incredible supernatural battle between Satan and the third of the angels who followed him into becoming demons and Michael and the angels who remained with God.  Satan is thrown out of heaven so he cannot slander and accuse believers before God anymore (see Job 1:6-11; 2:1-6; Zech 3:1-2).  Jesus saw Satan falling from heaven (Luke 10:17-18).  And Jesus also saw Satan driven out in John 12:31-32.  I submit that this battle occurred during Jesus’ earthly ministry; and that Satan’s power to go before the throne of God was broken by Christ at that point.  Which is why Rom 8:33 can say, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?”  John places this event here to tell us that during the second half of the Tribulation, Satan “recognizing that he has but a short time” will try to attack Jews as he never has before.

Rev 12:6 is really incredible.  Jesus in Matt 24:15-16 prophetically warned the generation of Jews living in Judea and Jerusalem at the time that Antichrist would go into the newly rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem  (see Daniel 9:27; 12:11; Matt 24:15) and declare himself “God” to flee immediately.  And one day, all-too soon, that event will happen in the middle of the Tribulation as the beast declares himself God.  But we’re told in Rev 12:6 that there will be “a place prepared for her by God” to flee.  God has actually already prepared this place at Petra.  And these Jews will be divinely protected by God for 1,260 days (or forty-two months or three and a half years or a time, times and half a time).  And so we look at Rev 12:13-17 and see how the action plays out.  Jesus told Jews to bug out of Judea when the Antichrist commits the abomination that shall cause desolation.  When Antichrist declares himself God in the Temple mid-way through the Tribulation, Jews in Judea will know EXACTLY where to flee: about 150 miles south of Jerusalem at the other end of the Dead Sea to a place called “Petra.”  Petra is a giant network of caves carved out by the Nabataeans and completed by the Romans over centuries in the Mountains of Edom at Mount Seir in modern day Jordan.  Many caves hold 30-40 people; one holds 300.  The Romans built an amphitheater that holds 5,000 people.  There is room for 250,000 people.  And it is only accessible by way of a narrow corridor 12’ wide.  When the Jews flee into Petra, God will sovereignly cause an earthquake that will devour the pursuing army of Antichrist and simultaneously miraculously shelter the Jews (see Daniel 11:41, which prophesies that Edom would be off limits to the beast).  Isaiah prophesied of this Petra event in Isa 26:20.  And as we speak, the Jordanians are fixing the place up, having installed a modern water and sanitation system!

How do Christians overcome the devil (Rev 12:11)?  Three ways: 1) by the Blood of the Lamb which renders Satan powerless; 2) by the words of our testimony because the gospel is the salvation-power of God (Rom 1:16) and when we’re not ashamed of the gospel, we have that power; and 3) by not loving our own lives and being willing to follow Christ even to death.

Revelation 13 gives us a more complete introduction to the two coming beasts and describes how they will operate.  Like many dictators (e.g. Hitler), they will initially be heralded as saviors.  They will promise a Utopia but unleash hell on earth.  Mankind frankly ought to know better, but as Georg Hegel observed, “History teaches us that man learns nothing from history.”  But the Bible tells us all about Antichrist: he is called “the king of Babylon” (Isa 14:4), the little horn (Dan 7:8; 8:9), the man of lawlessness and the man doomed to destruction (2 Thess 2:3), Antichrist (1 John 2:18) and the beast (Rev 13:1).  We find in Daniel (e.g. Dan 11:32) that whereas Daniel was given the wisdom to reveal mysteries, Antichrist will have the ability to so entangle the truth into knots that no one will be able to resist his distortions.  Regardless of how Antichrist sees himself or how he deceives the world into seeing him, God sees him as a ruthless, unfeeling dictator and monster.

The first beast – the political Antichrist – arises out of the sea (Rev 13:1) – which in both Revelation (Rev 17:15) and elsewhere in Scripture depict the violent and erratic political turmoil of the Gentile nations (Isaiah 57:20; Jer 49:23; Jude 13).  The seven heads ties him to Satan (see p. 1), to his eschatological role in the last days, and to his counterfeiting of God.  But in addition we’re told in Rev 17:9-11 that the “seven heads” are “seven kings” with Antichrist being an eighth king who rules over these seven kings.  Horns always symbolize political power.  Why ten horns?  Ten kingdoms that he has power over.  Consider this view, because we know that Antichrist will rule the entire world (Rev 13:3,8):

The forces that are intent on creating a one world government want to divide the world to ten interdependent and mutually interacting regions. One of the agencies promoting a one world government is the Club of Rome, a collection of the mega rich and intellectual elite that established a think tank in Rome in April 1969. The Rockefeller family is part of this group… On September 17, 1973 the COR issued a report… that expressed a vision for the world. In the COR report the world is divided into ten political/economic regions which are called “kingdoms.” In his summary of the report by Mesaroviv and Pestel Peccei stated,

Their world model, based on new developments of the multilevel hierarchical systems theory, divides the world into ten interdependent and mutually interacting regions of political, economic or environmental coherence … .’”

Rev 13:2 presents Antichrist in terms of a leopard, a bear and a lion.  This takes us to Daniel 7 and the description of the four successive empires that would rule the world (Greece=leopard; Medo-Persia=bear; lion=Babylon).  Like Greece, he will be lightening fast in his maneuverings; like Medo-Persia he will display raw power in his conquests; and like Babylon he will represent boastful arrogance.  The Antichrist will have the mightiest features that made these previous empires so deadly.  Satan will give him his power and his influence over mankind.

One of the heads of the beast seemed to have a fatal head wound, but the fatal wound had been healed.”  This is an imitation by the Great Imitator; the beast’s suffering a fatal wound is a parody of Christ’s Passion and his seeming to return to life is a parody of Christ’s Resurrection.  But Satan can only “seem” to copy what Christ already factually accomplished.

Rev 13:5-8 is a section filled with what scholars refer to as “divine passives,” denoting God’s divine control over all things, very much including the forces of evil.  Hence “the beast was given…” is one of three places in the paragraph that the divine passive indicates that God sovereignly allows the beast to blaspheme, to conquer the saints and to control the nations and cause them to worship him.  God is sovereign over everything that happens – even during the “godless” Tribulation when Antichrist and Satan rage as human history has never seen.  Which ought to tell us that God is surely in control over our situations NOW!  God limits Antichrist temporally (to only 3 ½ years) and spatially (to earth).

Rev 13:8 refers to those who worship the beast as “all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the lamb.”  The book of life is a divine register of all true believers (e.g. Ex 32:32-33; Psa 69:28; Dan 7:9-10, 12:1).  If your name is found in this book you are a citizen of heaven no matter WHAT the forces of evil do.  There IS no true power in evil, for God is NEVER not in complete control.  Satan will only be able to give the beast his authority because the sovereign God allows him to do so.  And here it belongs to the Lamb, because it was the Lamb who won victory over the dragon for the saints (Rev 12:11).  And God’s redemptive plan was established “from the creation of the world.”  Thus John warns us in Rev 13:9-10 that, for instance, “If it is God’s will that anyone be taken captive, then he must go into captivity,” etc.  More than any other time in history, the ethical requirement for these Tribulation saints will be clear: to meekly accept their imprisonment and martyrdom and place their trust entirely in God while refusing to take action against the forces of evil – but instead to merely continue to proclaim the gospel message.

Satan’s final rebellion will be waged in a war of total annihilation.  Satan’s goal is to either dethrone God or destroy God’s creation in the attempt.  And to this end Satan parodies the Trinity, the dragon (himself), the beast from the sea (Antichrist) and the beast from the earth or the false prophet.  When the first beast “rises from the dead,” the second one will exploit the event to forge a new world religion worshiping the Antichrist and behind him the dragon as its focus (Rev 13:3-4, 12).  And the beast will blaspheme God by taking God’s divine names for himself (Rev 13:5-6), by taking worship that belongs to God to himself (13:7-8) and persecuting God’s saints (13:7).  He will abrogate for himself divine status and pretend that his actions are answerable to no one (hence the title “man of lawlessness”).  I submit that we are already seeing morality being supplanted by rhetoric and demagoguery as we never have before; but under Antichrist it will be categorically worse as he “justifies” absolutely everything he does.

The second beast arises from the land.  He is labeled as a false prophet (Rev 16:13; 19:20; 20:10).  The first beast has the political and military power to conquer; this one has the religious power to deceive the world into worshiping the first beast.  In pseudo-Trinitarian terms, as the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (John 16:14), so the false prophet glorifies Antichrist.  The dragon gave his authority to the Antichrist and the Antichrist gives his authority to the false prophet.  Note that his two horns are uncrowned (cf. the first beast).  Just as in Dan 8:3 Medo-Persia was viewed as a ram with two horns representing the empire in its opposition to God, so also the horns of this imposter with his two horns “like the Lamb.”

If you like socialism – the government takeover of the private sector economy – you will absolutely LOVE the government of these two beasts.  The Bible warned us of the coming of global totalitarian government (Dan 7:23; Rev 13:7-8); and we’re going to get it.  The European Union and the United Nations are two powerful current examples of this trend that is coming to take over.  Globalists in every level of government from every nation are seeking to unite the world. Connecting the world economically and monetarily – which they have already largely accomplished – is crucial to their goal.  It is frankly incredible how the socialists and secularists have been so successful at establishing all the necessary powers and capabilities which will fall into the Antichrist’s hand like a ripe apple falling from a tree.  Big government has never honored God; it seeks to replace Him as Savior of the people.

Revelation is clear that the mark of the beast will be an act of worship of the first (political) beast.  You will find that worshipers of big government LOVE religion – provided that said “religion” validates the worship of big government.  Here the false prophet exploits his religious influence over the world to obtain a political act on the behalf of the political beast; he institutes an economic system that only allows those who have publicly announced their worship of the Antichrist – and received his mark on their right hands or foreheads – to be participants.  I have no doubt “the mark of the beast” will be technological: a microchip, an RFID, or a bar code.  If you have the mark, socialism will work for you: you will not only have money in your account and the ability to buy and sell, but you will likely have the goods and wealth of those who refuse to take the mark “redistributed” to you.  If you refuse to take the mark, you will have NO money and NO means of buying or selling ANYTHING.  Money will be tracked to the point in which bartering is impossible; because those who purchase too many groceries or too much gasoline will trigger an audit and be caught if they barter goods with one who has not taken the mark.  What socialists dream today will happen: government will control all money and the entire economy.  And it will result in literal hell on earth as Antichrist exploits the system to assume dictatorial power.

Part Seven: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15

Part Eight: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 16-18

Part Nine: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 19-20

Part Ten: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 21-22