Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Dragon Persecutes the Woman


   Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.    

   But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 
   So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 
  But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 
   And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.12:13-17 

The persecution Continues


   As we already learned, Satan lost the war in heaven and was exiled to earth and it's surrounding atmosphere.  Is it because of his desire for retribution that he decided to pick on Israel and The Church?

   the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place.  Eagle wings represent speed.   The woman, Israel, has the ability to fly (flee) from Roman persecution.  The Jews dispersed to Asia and Western Europe.  Satan's main interest is in the prophetic world of the Bible; basically the home of the Israelites.  There he will make his last major stand. 

   Christ, while speaking about this time, in Matthew 24, limited his warnings to Judea.  Therefore, it seems that the Jews can escape to the comparatively safe wilderness of other countries, to be out of the area of Satan's distinct attention. The KJV Bible study suggests that the Jews will be protected by Christians in those foreign countries to which they are dispersed.  

   where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.  In Bible talk, a time means 1 year, and, times, means 2 years.  Therefore 1 year plus 2 years plus half a year equals 3 and a half years.  Many Bible scholars agree that these 3.5 years refer to the last half of the Great Tribulation.  However, in this setting that thought is illogical because these 3.5 years refer to the woman's comparative safety. 
  

   So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.  Foster,*** states that the woman of chapter 12 is The Church and not the nation of Israel, from there he goes on to say that this flood, which Satan spews out of his mouth, is a flood of licentious entertainment and ungodly education.  According to him, this flood will start so slowly and quietly that even The Church will be lulled into accepting it as a normal part of Christianity.  Indeed, isn't this true about entertainment on television?  Some of us still remember when The Church struggled with the question, may Christians watch TV?  

   It seems the church chose the wrong answer.  Hardly a half-hour sitcom can go by without the words “Oh, my God”.  We are already so used to that blasphemy that we hardly notice it any more.  The phrase, “Holy Mother of God” has also become common on “sitcomes”, and normal Christians laugh at these blasphemers! 

   Actors in movies seem to have no compunction about using our Savior’s name as profanity!   At which point, if ever, is the Christian Church going to take a stand against the flood of abuse sent by Satan? 


   His point is well taken but since I believe that the woman represents Israel and not The Church, I cannot agree with his application.  I submit that  the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood means that the earth helped the woman, the Jewish people, and swallowed up the flood of destruction with the help of those countries which have democratic policies so that the Jews are relatively safe.   



Satan is Still Upset


And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, and the woman (Israel) was comparatively safe when, in his fury, Satan turns his attention to The Church at large, the remnant of the woman's seed. 12:15.  This separation between the woman (Israel) and her seed (the Church) seems very Biblical, based on chapter 12.  

At no time (in this chapter) is the woman, associated with the blood of the Lamb, 12:11, or with the testimony of Jesus Christ. 12:17.  Just as Israel, as a nation, does not accept Christ as their Messiah.  However, both, the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of Jesus Christ are used in association with the remnant of her seed, The Church.

   As already stated, Mr. Smith** and Mr. Foster*** say that the woman represents The Church.  One reason to reject this theory is that in 12:17 John makes a distinct difference between the woman and her offspring; the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring.  Therefore, if The Church is the offspring of the woman, The Church cannot also be the woman.  

   In spite of that incongruity, Mr. Smith does draw the following interesting conclusion.  The reformation in the dark ages is that force that swallowed up the flood that Satan sent to destroy the Church.  This he argues because, according to him, the Roman Catholic Church is the embodiment of the red dragon.

   The dragon is enraged because he has failed twice already.  
  1. The first time was when he sought to usurp the throne of God when he attempted to be like the Most High. 12:9.  
  2. The second time was when He tried to destroy Christ in life and by death. 
   That is why, as a final onslaught, he is striving to undo everything that God accomplished for The Church, through the death and resurrection of the Messiah.

   This brings us to the end of the introduction to The Apocalypse.  In the next post we go back to Chapter 2, where we start with the letters to the seven churches.

____________________________________
** A Commentary of Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, Seventh Day Adventist.
 ***  Shadow of the Antichrist by Ivan Foster, Free Presbyterian

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The War on Earth


   And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. 12:11-12

A Confusing Outlook


   On reading 12:11-17 it becomes apparent that this section must be interlaced into the story of the Church.  Technically, it does not come before nor does it follow the section about the seven churches.  This section must be seen as running parallel to and for the full duration of the time of the seven churches. 

  This section stretches from the time the Church is born, 12:1-6, until the Church moves to heaven.  Although Mr. McGee* does not believe that the seals, trumpets and bowls represent the same “evils”, he does say the following.  My feeling is that we have a complete history of the church in the seven churches, and that we have the complete Great Tribulation period in each one of the series of sevens; in other words, each group of seven covers it all.  By, each one of the series of seven, he is referring to “the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven bowls”.  It is not understandable that he says, that each covers all, and yet he insists that they follow each other chronologically.  

   He insists that The Revelation must be interpreted in the order in which we have it in the Bible; however, he has no qualms about the fact that, according to him, Christ is born in chapter 12, after the rapture of the church, which is in chapter 11.  but then, without any apparent reason, he places the rapture into chapter 3.  With that arrangement how can he say that The Revelation must be interpreted in the order in which we have it in the Bible?

   If the book must be followed chronologically and if the rapture of the Church happens in chapter 3 then anything after chapter 3 would in no way relate to the church.

   And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.  In 12:3 we were officially introduced to the Dragon, and we know how he came to be on earth; because of a war which he lost against Michael and his angels.  In 12:4, we learned that his intentions were to destroy the woman (Israel) and her male child (the Church) and now, in 12:11, we learn how we can overcome him; by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

   The word of their testimony may refer to the testimony of the Old Testament writers. Throughout the New Testament the writers repeatedly refer to the writings of the Old Testament saints with the greatest respect and admonish us to pay attention to their words.  For example, Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. Heb. 2:1 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place. 2 Pet. 1:19

   Although, it is also possible that The word of their testimony also refers to the sermons and admonitions of New testament saints.  After all, The Church was almost 70 years old by the time John wrote these words.

The Conflict Continues



   they did not love their lives to the death.  The following numbers do not include any deaths by war.  Note that over 20 million were martyred in Soviet prison camps, and that well over half of the 70 million Christian martyrs were killed in the 20th century alone. 


   It was stated that till 2010 an average of 159,960 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith per year. 


   One out of every 120 Christians in the past has been martyred, or in the future is likely to so be.  A contemporary example is the church in China. In 1949, there were only one million Christians. Fifty years of anti religious Communist rule produced some 1.2 million martyrs. The result: explosive church growth to today’s 100 million believers.


   Even though state-ruling powers (atheists and others) are responsible for most martyrdom, closer examination of the entire list of martyrdom situations reveals that Christians themselves have been the persecutors responsible for martyring 5.5 million other Christians. Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  Would any of us be willing to pay the price?  Or would we think that what we believe is not really important enough to die for?

  Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. 


   When Satan was cast out of heaven those who live there can now rejoice.  But their pleasure is our pain.  The devil is very angry because he knows he does not have much time left.  In the time that he has left he will do what he can to destroy decency, humanitarianism and love for fellow humans.  St. Paul wrote, But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. 2 Timothy 3:1. 

   The people of the United States own approximately one firearm for every man, woman, child and baby in their country.  Many take their guns with them when they go shopping.  Would they really rather kill a person than have a week's worth of groceries stolen from them?  

   But we in Canada can not point our fingers at anyone else.  We have our share of gun violence, road rage, thefts, etc.  Satan is doing his best worldwide to destroy everything that is good and Jehovah honouring. 

   There is consolation - Saint John wrote, he has a short time.

_________________________________

 *  Through the Bible with Dr. J Vernon McGee.    

      

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Mystery of the Seven Lampstands

Seven Stars and Seven Churches

   He held seven stars in his right hand. Rev 1:16.
  
  The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.1:20 


  And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, so that they might nourish her there a thousand, two hundred and sixty days. 12:6

And the dragon was enraged over the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. 12:17  

You will notice that we have now moved from chapter 12 back to where we left off in chapter 1.  Obviously, the letters to the seven churches must come after the birth of the Church which is recorded in 12:1-6.


Effective in The Hands Of Christ


   He had in his right hand seven stars.1:16.  Continuing with that thought, 1:20 says, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.  

   To get a better sense of continuity I have repeated a few paragraphs here from the previous post.   
The word, angel, in 1:20 and in chapters two and three has various interpretations.  Origen and Jerome both believed that each church had its own angel and that these letters were written to the angelic beings that were responsible for their particular church. 

   To me, it seems somewhat unlikely that God would use a human to write letters to heavenly angels. 

   The current trend of thought concerning this is that the word angel, which means "messenger", should be understood as being a human messenger; the preacher of a congregation.  Kenneth Wuest translates the word angels as "messengers".
  


The Mother and Child are Safe


    In 12:5 we read that the woman brought forth a man-child.  Some argue that the woman is specifically the virgin mother and the man-child is Christ.  In that interpretation, it is easy to see that Satan, in the form of Herod, was ready to kill the Christ child soon after His birth. 

   The woman ran into the desert to a place that God had prepared for her. There she would be taken care of for one thousand two hundred sixty days. 12:6  However, Satan failed because the woman, Mary, with her child, and Joseph fled into the wilderness (Egypt) and stayed there three and a half years, according to 12:6. 

   If one accepts this theory, then the statement, the child was caught up to God and his throne for safety, 12:5, would need to relate to the ascension of Christ after His resurrection.

    It seems that a more fitting interpretation is that the woman, the mother of the baby, represents the nation of Israel and the child, who had a Jewish mother, symbolizes the Church, which had its origin in Christ.  

  There is no denying that The Church had its roots in Judaism.  We have accepted their holy scriptures as part of our Bible.  Not only was The Church expected to continue in Christ’s doctrines, which are in agreement with the Old Testament, but she is also the Body of Christ.  This was foreshadowed in the Garden of Eden when God said, the two shall be one.  In a similar manner the Bride of Christ and The Bridegroom “become one”. 

   The woman (Israel) is dispersed into the wilderness (away from Rome) for her own safety.  That dispersion, of Jews and Christians, happened before 70 AD when Rome destroyed Jerusalem.  The dragon was enraged with the woman (Israel), and he went to make war with the rest (notice how the one child has become a plural entity) of her offspring, (the Church), who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. 12:17.   When a group of people leaves the the testimony of Jesus Christ they are no longer part of Christ's body.

   The woman fled into the wilderness and was protected and cared for, for three and a half years.  Mr. Uriah Smith** makes the following observation: Allowing for 360 days a year, three and a half years equals 1260 days, and, he says, in Bible prophecy one day represents one year.  According to him, the papacy was firmly established in 538 AD.  That is the point from which he starts counting the 1260 years and, of course, he ends up in the year 1798 AD, which he states, marked the end of the papal supremacy.  What he is saying is that The Church, in the wilderness, was safe from the wicked Roman Papal system. 

  However, I refute his theory.  His years are all short by five days each. Therefore, if we multiply 5 days times 1260 we end up with about eleven years. He should have ended up in approximately 1809 AD, but that date did not suit him.  It is true that the Hebrew calendar has only 360 days, but to make up for the shortfall they add a “leap month” every second or third year, as required. Mr. Smith, to maintain his theory, in his calculations did not add the "leap months", and so he ended up with the year he needed to make his point.

______________________________
** A Commentary of Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, Seventh Day Adventist.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Church is Born

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 
Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. 
And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 
His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 
She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. 
Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. 12:1-6

   This segment of The Apocalypse is the first recorded section after the Rapture of the Church in 11:19, but, of course, chronologically, this section must immediately precede, the Church age, which is recorded in 2:1-11:19.

   It is imperative that we understand that the word “heaven” has a variety of meanings in the Bible.   However, in no case is it some far off, wondrous, unimaginable place in the misty recesses of our fantasy.  The heaven (spaceship) which John later enters, is a real, actual, physical place that our human senses could appreciate if it were in our reach.  John saw it, heard it, felt it, entered it.

It is just as real as the heaven where the sun, moon, and stars appear to be. It was in the sky where John saw the vision.  In fact, The Contemporary English Version uses these words, Something important appeared in the sky.  

A woman, who is standing on the moon, appears, wearing the sun and a garland with 12 stars.  This woman represents the righteous people of Israel and their body of beliefs; they are the chosen people of Jehovah.  Before the day of Pentecost, when the Church was born, she was the one nation, in the entire world, that worshiped Jehovah; therefore, symbolically, she is said to be wearing the sun.  

  The garland of twelve stars represents the 12 patriarchs of Israel. These twelve men shine brightly, at times, in the history of the Jewish people.   Joseph, in his dream, saw his father (Jacob/Israel) as the sun and his mother (Rachel) as the moon. Gen. 37:9-10.

Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.  The picture painted in 12:2  is that of a very difficult delivery.  That is how it has been with the Christian church.  Satan will not easily let go of even one soul so that it can be born again.  The rebirth is always a difficult delivery because he hates to lose any that are his.  If he struggles so hard to keep even one soul from entering God's kingdom, the mental anguish, for him, must have been horrendous when the Christian Church was born.  If he did not know that both in life and death, Christ had been victorious over him, the birth of the Church, should have been enough to convince him.

John says I saw another wonder in the sky; the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.  
In 12:5 we read that the woman brought forth a man-child.  Some argue that the woman is specifically the virgin mother and the man-child is Christ who will rule all the nations with a rod of iron.  In that interpretation, it is easy to see that Satan, in the form of Herod, was ready to kill the Christ child soon after His birth.  However, he failed because the woman, Mary, with her child and Joseph fled into the wilderness (Egypt) and stayed there three and a half years, according to 12:6.  If one accepts this theory, then the statement, the child was caught up to God and his throne for safety would need to relate to the ascension of Christ after His resurrection.

There is no Scriptural record that the virgin mother suffered persecution after the death of her Son, or that she experienced a safe, miraculous assumption into heaven.  There is another theory which I prefer.

   The woman, in the person of Mary, represents Israel.  The baby, in the person of Christ, represents The Church.  The dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. There are at least a few examples of this in the New Testament.

  1. A lady, about to give birth, cannot even find a heated, sanitary room in a hotel and so the baby is born in a sheep pen where it is cold and dirty.  Not only that, but Mary was all alone with no one, except a carpenter, to encourage her and see to her needs.
  2. The dragon used Herod to kill all the baby boys, under two years old, to make sure that The Church would never be born.
  3. Before Christ started his ministry He went to the wilderness to meditate and seek Jehovah's direction for His life.  While He was there the dragon sought Him out and tempted the Messiah.  All he needed was for the anointed one to yield to one temptation.  The dragon failed.
Mr. Smith records that the standard of Rome in John’s time was a red Dragon.  Perhaps John was painting two pictures at once by denouncing the Roman political system while at the same time clarifying the ambitions of Satan.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Mutiny in Heaven

B) Conflict


And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 
but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 12:7-10


The War in Heaven


In The Revelation, the war in heaven is recorded after the rapture of the Church.  In my posts, the war in heaven appears immediately after the introduction to the book because the war in heaven happened long before The Church even began to exist.

In 12:3 we will be introduced to the red dragon.  However, first, here, in 12:7 we are taken back into pre-history, to an incident that happened in the heavens, perhaps among the stars in space, before humankind came along;  (here it helps to imagine the Star Wars series).  Michael and his angels fought against the red dragon.

The dragon and his angels (33 percent of the stars (angels) of heaven) lost the war and their place in heaven.  And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them onto the earth. 12:4.  

This thought takes us directly to Ezekiel 28:13-17, where God said to Satan, You were in Eden, the garden of God; …“You were the anointed cherub; You were on the holy mountain of God;…You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.…And you sinned; …and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, …“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;… I cast you to the ground.

This reminds us of Isaiah 14:12-15, How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!  For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol.

Some say that this passage in Ezekiel refers only to the King of Tyre, and the passage in Isaiah makes reference only to the king of Babylon.  However, based on Revelation 12:7-9 it is easy to see a second, much deeper, meaning in these two passages, namely, the fall of Satan from heaven.


Joy in Heaven


    It was after Christ had ascended to heaven that John heard a loud voice in heaven, making this announcement, Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
  
    Later in our studies, we will find that John actually went into heaven.  If you want proof before we get there, see 4:1-3.


  Satan lost the first battle and fell from heaven, and that is where The Revelation 12:7 resumes the account and that is when 12:8 takes on meaning, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. No longer, John says, may Satan enter God's presence to accuse the brethren.  

   We recall from Job 1:1, in the Old Testament, that Satan came to Jehovah to accuse a man that was perfect and upright, and one who feared God and turned aside from evil. 

That was before Christ took His royal seat at the right and of Jehovah.  After that, Satan's evil work is limited to the earth.  He is the prince of the power of the air. Eph. 2:2.  He will do his best to destroy the righteous woman (Israel) and her offspring (the Church).  We will have much more about this picture later.

After Satan was cast out of heaven he can no longer accuse the brethren.  Now we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1

If ever there was any doubt in the mind of any heavenly creatures which side was going to win the war in heaven, (read: the war in space), that doubt was put to rest when Christ took His place at the Father’s right hand. The acclamation of victory rings clear; Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! 12:10-12

   To get a more complete picture of this whole idea I suggest the science fiction book by C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent PlanetIt is very good Christian reading for those who like science fiction.

The angel associates himself with humankind by saying the accuser of our brethren.  Here, “our brethren” seems to imply, that it is a number of angels that speak. Cambridge commentary.  Therefore, we should think of the angels only as fellow servants, not as beings to be worshiped or addressed in prayer, as some do.

  However, many commentaries do not believe that the words our brethren refers to angels.  Because angels are not the brothers of humans.  Those commentaries argue that the words our brethren refers to the Christians who have already gone to heaven.  Those same commentaries also believe that Christians "go to heaven" when they die.  However, that teaching is not to be found in the Bible.

   Here is one argument against that teaching.  Christ said, In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2.  Christ, speaking in the future tense, said I go to prepare a place for you.  With that in mind the question can be asked, Where, in heaven, did the Old Testament saints go when they died.  The rooms in heaven were not ready yet!   

Most Christians will not be resurrected until the second coming of Christ which will happen after the great tribulation.  We will get back to these points later on in our studies.


On the Side


An interesting observation is that both the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah's Witnesses say the angel, Michael, is really Christ.  However, by way of contradicting themselves, they do admit that Christ is superior to an angel.

Friday, January 18, 2013

I Am the First and the Last

   And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 
   “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. 1:17-18.

I Am Alive Again  


   I fell at his feet as dead.  So would we, if we could see ourselves as we are in contrast to Him, the one who is altogether lovelySong of Solomon 5:16  At one point Jehovah, speaking to His chosen people, said, you worm, Jacob. Is. 41:14.  A worm is an extremely lowly creature, so exactly who do we think we are that we strut into God's presence thinking that we are something?  We need to fall at His feet in true humility as John did.

He laid his right hand on me in comfort.  Christ is always concerned with the well-being of his children.  Three times in 1:17-18 Christ says, I am.  What a sublime comfort it is for the Christian to know that Christ is.  Christ says I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Hallelujah, what a Savior, He is all we will ever need for our salvation.


I Have the Keys


Amen.…I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  This sounds like a postscript after the Amen.  Almost as if he is saying, oh, by the way, concerning eternal matters you have nothing to worry about, I also have the keys.  
  
The word, keys, is plural, inferring that hell and death are separate entities.  In 6:8 they are treated as two; So I looked, and behold, a pale horse.  And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him.  In 20:14 we see that Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.  Wuest# writes that the proper translation of hell (as it is used here) is Hades which is made up of Greek words which mean, to see-not, or plainly, the unseen place.  

  There are good theological reasons to believe that "the unseen place", or "hell", simply means, "the grave", the place where departed people are placed at death.  The sea gave up the dead who were in it. 20:13.  Very literally, the sea, in this sentence, is the maritime counterpart of Hades, the unseen place, (the grave).  More about this later.

Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, … by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison. 1 Peter 3:18-19.  Was it at that time, while He was in prison, that He got possession of the keys?  

  Here is a theory: He entered Satan’s dominion, proved His superiority and demanded that which had been promised, namely, the keys of  Hades and of Death.  After he had proven His superiority over Satan, just to make sure the keys worked, He opened the graves of many, and their inhabitants came back to life. Mat. 27:52.

John's Commission

  Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.1:19.  These words are easier understood if we read them as: write, “the things you have seen, the things you are seeing and the things you will see later on”.

_____________________________

# An Expanded Translation, K.W. Wuest.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Vision of Christ

In the midst of the seven lampstands stood One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 
His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 
His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 
He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 1:13-16 


The Son of Man


    The words, Son of Man, very distinctly refer to Christ, our Savior, judging by the description given in 13-18.  Even so, The American Standard Version writes, a son of man, and Wuest says, like a son of man (human).  Verses 18-20 very pointedly tell us that it is Christ who holds the seven stars in His right hand, and therefore we cannot accept the idea that this refers to a mere human.


His clothing


This very beautiful, awesome picture of Christ, fills the imagination with admiration.  Christ is wearing a long gown, as was the custom, in John's day, for men in eastern cultures.  The color of it is not given here, but later we read of Him as wearing a vesture dipped in blood. 19:13


It is a picture of Christ wearing a robe, now dipped in blood, to remind us of Calvary.  Around His chest, he is wearing a gold colored sash; portraying royalty.
  

His hair


He has beautiful, long hair which were white like wool, as white as snow.  His white hair is in striking contrast to his golden sash; and his eyes are a flame of fire.  O!  Those eyes; penetrating the human soul, seeing all the sinful motives of the degenerate heart.

His Feet 


Throughout the Bible, brass speaks of judgment.  Here we read that His feet were like fine (refined) brass; He is prepared to judge; to trample with his feet; to rule with a rod of iron: He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 19:15.  

The word, refined, is surely a picture that tells us that his judgment is pure, altogether without flaw.  For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, And the peoples with equity. Psalm 98:9,


His Voice


His voice was as the sound of many waters.  His voice is a commanding voice.  It is a voice of authority.  Like a giant waterfall demands our attention, so the voice of Christ will someday demand the attention of every human, then, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Phil. 2:10-11.


The seven stars

     
He had in his right hand seven stars. 1:20 plainly says, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.  The word, angel, in 1:20 and in chapters 2&3, has various interpretations.  Origen and Jerome both believed that each church had its own angel and that these letters were written to the angelic beings that were responsible for their particular church.  It does seem somewhat unlikely though that Jehovah would use a human to write letters to heavenly angels. 

  
The current trend of thought concerning this is that the word angel, which means, messenger, should be understood as being a human messenger; the preacher of a congregation.  There are some groups that believe that it is wrong for a congregation to have a designated minister.   It seems from this that Saint John had no problem with that idea.

  It is altogether fitting that preachers of the Word of God should be called stars; Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:3. 

   It is no mere coincidence that a sharp two-edged sword, which is the "Word of God", is mentioned immediately after the stars; those who are the preachers of the Word of truth.  Any preacher, who will shine like a star and turn many to righteousness, must be in close association with the Word of God.