Friday, March 29, 2013

The Third Trumpet and Third Bowl

  

                                                  

The Third Trumpet – fresh waters are affected.  



Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 
The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.8:10-11 

   There fell out of the heaven a great meteor blazing like a torch. Wuest#  Many men, the word, men, is better understood as, people, died.


   There is a danger of rewriting the Bible if one adds or subtracts words from the text, and yet, the meaning must make sense or it is nonsense. 

  Certainly here, in 8:11, when it says, the water became wormwood, something needs to be done with the meaning.  The only way this statement could be true, as it is, is if The Mediterranean Sea became a plant called wormwood.  A much more likely meaning is that the waters became as bitter as wormwood.  The Lord, writing to His sinful chosen race, used these words figuratively, representing hard times and tears.  Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. Jeremiah 9:15 

  Thirty three percent of the rivers and fresh water sources running into the Mediterranean Sea become bitter; so bitter that the water could not be used for drinking.

   The text does not specify that thirty-three percent of the people died.  Those that died, died because the water was bitter.  The Greek word for Wormwood is apainthion.  It is a bitter plant used in medicine and for making the liqueur called absinthe.

The Third Bowl - fresh waters are affected.


Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.16:4-7 

   The striking similarity between the third trumpet and the third bowl is that both affected the fresh water sources: rivers and streams. According to the trumpet’s warning, the fresh water (the source of life) became bitter, but about the bowl, we read that the fresh water became as blood.  In either case, the fresh waters became undrinkable. The people of the earth delighted in shedding innocent blood; now they have blood to drink. With the Lord, the punishment fits the crime.


   You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” This same angel, the one with the bowl of wrath, now magnifies the Lord for having poured judgment upon those who deserved it, because they are the ones who martyred God's saints.

  
   It seems as if 16:7 is an echo in a chorus in 16:5-6; a second voice responds to the words of the first voice with the words of praise, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.

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# An Expanded Translation, K.W. Wuest.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Second Trumpet and Second Bowl



The Second Trumpet - The Sea becomes blood.

 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mixed with blood, and they were cast on the earth. And the third part of trees was burned up, and all green grass was burned up. 
Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 
And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. 8:7-9 

   Verse 8 sounds as if it refers to a volcano whose ash and lava end up in the sea.  First, we need to notice the term, the sea.  This is not any sea, not all seas, but distinctly the Mediterranean Sea; many times, throughout the Bible, the term, the sea, refers specifically to the Mediterranean Sea.   

If verse 8 is specifically for that area only, so probably also is the devastation of verse 7, for it also does not say anything about the whole earth. 

   In this destruction, thirty-three percent of the creatures of the Mediterranean Sea are destroyed, as are also thirty-three percent of its ships.  Here it might be well to remind ourselves that to Jewish writers of two thousand years ago numbers frequently represented unspecified amounts.  The meaning might well be something as casual as "many but not as many as half of them".

  Some teachers suggest that this description refers to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, in AD 79; even though Mt. Vesuvius erupted before John wrote The Revelation.  The problem with this idea is that if that eruption of Mt. Vesuvius is being referred to here, John was writing history, not prophecy. 

   Here is another idea: a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea. 8:8. I am simply conjecturing, but still, isn't it possible that when, in the video he was watching, John saw the fire in the lava, in The Sea, the water appeared to be red, "like blood"?

  If we were to update this prophecy so that it is relevant to our time could we see that this might refer to modern warfare on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea?  Think Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Libya.

  It is also worth noticing that the word creatures (Strong G2938) does not exclude humans.  Is it unthinkable that John, writing prophecy, was referring to the many refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach the safety of Europe?  He even mentions the fact that many ships are destroyed; this is also part of the latest news stories.

The Second Bowl - The Sea becomes blood.


Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.16:3

   Now, back to the idea of a mountain erupting and sending its lava into the Mediterranean Sea.

The striking similarity between the second trumpet and the second bowl of wrath is that both affected the sea so that the waters of The Mediterranean Sea became blood and caused death in the sea. It is interesting to note that the word became can also mean seemed. (Strong G1096).  With so many deaths happening in the sea you may as well think of it as a sea of blood.



  Even though the similarities between the second trumpet and the second Bowl are too great to ignore there is a notable difference; in 8:9 Saint John, writing about the second trumpet says, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, but in 16:3 the writer, not Saint John, writing about the second bowl, is not so optimistic; he says that every living creature in the sea died.


On the other hand:
  
Sometimes it is necessary to insert words such as like or as, in order to have statements make sense.  it became blood is that kind of a statement.  It seems as if that kind of insertion is needed here to make the phrase read, it became like blood.  

   For those who object to this line of reasoning; note that we, Protestants, use that same argument when it relates to the elements of the communion service.  Of course, we do not believe that "the bread" is the actual body of Christ, even though Christ said it was; this is my body which was broken for you.  We take the bread to be a symbol of the body of Christ.  We have changed the apparent meaning of the words of Christ so that they actually become logical.  

   In 8:8 John wrote that the sea became blood.  Here, in 16:3, another major fact is added; the sea...became (like the) blood as of a dead man.  The blood of a dead person is congealed, it does not move.  The blood of a living person provides life: For the life of the flesh is in the blood. Lev 17:11 KJV.   The waters of the Mediterranean Sea no longer support life as they used to.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The First Trumpet and First Bowl




The first trumpet – Greenery is burned.


The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. 8:7

   In 8:4 the prayers and the incense were mixed together, then, together with fire from the altar, it was cast to the earth, but in 8:7 the fire is mingled with blood and is cast upon the earth. There followed hail and fire mixed together in (a shower of) blood. Wuest#

  The first angel sounded the warning!  Will anyone pay attention?  Here is something that should cause people to take note.  Thirty-three percent of the trees and all the green grass was burned up.  If this is a statement of prophecy, as it seems to be, it is easy to see that by including trees John would, of course, have included fruit trees and also crop bearing grasses and perhaps edible root plants. 
   Maybe this refers to the thinning of the Ozone layer, the burning of carbon based fuels and the deforestation of 33 percent of the world's forests.

The First Bowl – Loathsome sores

     
So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image.16:2 

   The effects of the first trumpet and the first bowl of wrath appear to be different, but they are not contradictory. The similarity between the two is that both, seemingly, affected the flora and fauna of the earth.

   Wuest# translates this part of 16:2 like this, there came a foul and pernicious suppurated sore.  Suppurated means pus forming.

   One of the best ways to stay healthy is by choosing an array of foods to boost your immune system. Eating healthy, antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, ... is an important part of maintaining good immune system health to help ward off infection and illness.  from About.com Guide 

 Because the formation of pus usually indicates a bacterial infection, people with conditions that weaken the immune system have a higher risk of infection and subsequent pus formation. Better Medicine from HealthGrades

Therefore, it is easy to see that if the biosphere, including vegetarian health foods of the earth, are destroyed a foul and loathsome sore, because of an unhealthy diet, would befall mankind.

It is interesting to note that this affects only those who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image.


f)      The Seven Angels

   Mentioned earlier, was the fact that before we were finished with the seven trumpets and the seven bowls of wrath, we would encounter seven other angels.  Here we meet the first of those seven.

The Angel predicting Gloom


Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, “he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” 14:9-13 

   The warning of eternal punishment is given to all who will receive the mark of the beast and to those who worship him.  This punishment will be given in response to God's anger and the wine of His anger is poured out undiluted.   They have no rest refers to the fact that the torment never abates.  There is no need for anyone to adopt this form of suffering for himself or herself.   God's grace, His calls and temporal chastening should have been enough to cause any soul to repent.  

  There, also, is no basis for misunderstanding God's message.  It is not involved (people make it involved).  God says, Repent and worship me.   14:9+11 make the reason for the torment clear.  It is because people worship the beast and his image and receive the mark of his name or, as written in The Living Bible, for they have worshipped the creature and his statue, and have been tattooed with the code of his name. If tattooed is an acceptable word to use to convey the proper meaning than this coding is certainly much more physical than that represented by learning Satan's will and doing it, as was mentioned earlier.

   The punishment is not meted out at this point in the Apocalypse; this is just a warning. The sentencing comes after the battle of Armageddon, at the judgment seat of Christ. We cringe at the idea of eternal punishment for humans.  Maybe this is not what the Bible means, but how we feel about it will not change its meaning.  Perhaps, if we could see the awfulness of humanity's sin, as Jehovah does, we would understand why such a penalty would be fitting.

   Here is the patience of the saints.  We will deal with this phrase in 13:10.

 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.  This statement would have no meaning if it were placed after the Rapture of The Church, which is recorded in 11:19.  Christians will still be on earth after the carnal church has been dealt the death blow; in other words, the rapture can not happen before the great tribulation.

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# An Expanded Translation, K.W. Wuest.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Temple Doors Will Be Opened

F)     Six Trumpets And Six Bowls of wrath


The purpose of interlacing the trumpet blasts, 8:7–11:19, with the bowls of wrath, 16:2–16:21, as has been done here, is to show the great similarities between them, and to reinforce the idea that to understand The Revelation properly, it must be rearranged.

   We are here looking at the introduction to the trumpets and the bowls, we are not studying the actual trumpets and bowls; that comes later.

Seven Angels With Seven Trumpets


And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
8:2+6 

  These are trumpets that herald upcoming events, these are not speaking trumpets, as was specifically stated about the earlier trumpets.  For more on this see: https://ikefehr1939.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-trumpet-speaks.html

   At this point, John introduces us to seven angels, but before this series is passed, we will have met seven other angels, who are not included among these seven.  Then, in chapter 15, this first group of seven angels, is mentioned again, and they are said to be bearing the seven plagues.  

   It seems as if the trumpets are the harbinger of the coming plagues, but the plagues are brought in the seven golden bowls.  In this study, the trumpets and the plagues are interwoven and studied together for a more comprehensive understanding of the issues involved.

   Mr Smith**, very conveniently, finds an incident in the history of the Middle East and Europe, which, according to him, denotes each specific trumpet blast. Mr Smith and The Signs (May 1998. p.25) gives an easy, but erroneous meaning to these seven judgments.  

According to him (in order of occurrence):

1. The first trumpet symbolizes the divine judgments that came upon Jerusalem and the Jewish nation when it set itself against Christ and his followers.
2.  The second trumpet symbolizes judgment upon the western Roman world.
3. The third trumpet referred to the professed church of Christ when it allowed itself to become defiled.  (As the Roman Catholic Church gained strength.)
4. The fourth trumpet referred to the ensuing darkness of the middle ages.
5. The fifth trumpet constituted the Mohammedan scourges that swept over the Middle East and into Europe.
6.  The sixth trumpet consisted of the scourges that continued under Turkish control.
7.  The seventh trumpet is not mentioned because it signifies the end of time.
         
This interpretation is wrong for several reasons:

1. This involves much more spiritualization than good Bible interpretation allows!

2. 1:1, 4:1 and 22:6 of The Revelation say that these things must shortly come to pass, but according to Mr Smith’s interpretation the first trumpet blast would have sounded before John even wrote it as prophecy.

3. The scourge of the fifth angel lasted five months but the disaster brought by the Mohammedan hordes lasted much longer.  (Although, Smith tries to clarify this by saying that 5 months equals 150 days, which, in prophecy, means 150 years).  There is no reason to accept 150 years as the actual number.  For example, Mohammedans did not invade Spain until 711 AD and the first of the crusades to drive the Turks out of Spain did not happen until 1085 AD.  This is 374 years later, not 150 years, as Mr Smith declares.

4. He says that The seventh is not mentioned because it signifies the end of time.  I agree that it heralds the end of time, but 11:15 distinctly says, Then the seventh angel sounded; the seventh trumpet is as specifically stated as the first six are.

Seven Bowls of Wrath

   Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete; 15:1 After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”15:1+5-16:1


   In 15:1 John introduces the seven plagues, then in 15:2-4 he sees a scene which happens during the "Great Tribulation".  After that scene of the "Great Tribulation"  he goes back to the seven plagues in 15:5.

  Mr McGee* writes, Chapter 15, besides being the shortest chapter in Revelation, is the preface to the final series of judgments which come on the earth during the Great Tribulation.  Many Bible scholars agree that the pouring out of the seven bowls of wrath is what constitutes "The Great Tribulation".  I agree with this, but I believe that the blowing of the seven trumpets and the pouring out of the seven bowls go hand in hand.

      When we first study the trumpet-blowing angels, we will notice that:
1) In 8:2 they are introduced,         
2) In 8:2 they were given the trumpets, 
3) In 8:6 they prepared to sound the trumpets.  

    We see the same sequence with the angels who have the bowls of wrath. 
1) In 15:1 they are introduced,
2) in 15:7 they were given the bowls of wrath and
3) in 16:1 they are told to Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath.  

   Then one of the living creatures (there are four, as we studied in ch. 4) from around the altar gave to each of the seven angels, one golden bowl. These seven bowls hold the wrath of God.  Contrary to natural events, when these "bad" things, the seven last plagues, happen on earth, they are not just acts of nature.  They are God's wrath, poured out upon the earth, in the form of severe ecological changes. 

  For generation upon generation humanity has ridiculed and blasphemed Jehovah; humanity has thumbed its nose at Jesus Christ whom Jehovah has appointed heir of all things.  Punishment for that kind of behavior is fair and just.  But even so, Jehovah does not bring an immediate end to humanity.  By sending the plagues He is trusting that some, in their misery, will repent and turn to Him for forgiveness.  Will these plagues have the desired effect?

   Now, for the first time, the writer tells us how these angels are dressed.  They were wearing pure white linen with a golden sash around their chests.  Perhaps we ought to rid our minds of the idea that angels are only ethereal, almost non-real.  They do wear linen, they talk and they perform physical duties.

   Even though the temple door was open, no man was able to enter into the temple, because it was filled with smoke; The smoke from Gods glory and from his power. 15:8.  However, later in history, 11:19, at the rapture of the Church, the temple will be opened again and then God's children will be able to enter the temple; but that cannot happen until Jehovah's wrath is satiated.  That will happen after the seven bowls of wrath have been poured out.

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** A Commentary on Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, Seventh Day Adventist.
      * Through the Bible with Dr. J Vernon McGee.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Great Earthquake

 
   I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 
And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 
Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.
   And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 

and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 
“For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” 6:12-17


The Stars Fall From Heaven


   The word, earthquake, is singular.  There will be just one earthquake at that time.  The sun will become black as sackcloth of hair.  Sackcloth is, very literally, the cloth used for making sacks, and that cloth is made from the hair of certain black goats.  It is a very course material, and for a person to wear it indicated either extreme poverty or mourning, Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many daysGenesis 37:34 

   It should not seem surprising that the sun became black because a great earthquake, such as the one just mentioned, could also open up many volcanoes and ash would be spewed into the atmosphere to such an extent that the sun becomes darkened.  

   Mr Smith**, in writing about this seal, reiterated specific events in history, which, according to him, are the fulfillment of this prophecy.  Concerning the 1755 earthquake in Europe, and surrounding areas, he writes, Flames are related to have issued from these mountains…they (the mountains) are also said to have smoked.  The volcanoes affect neither the sun nor the moon but it seems that way to the people who see them from the earth.  With that happening, there would also come all the associated problems in weather, agriculture, husbandry, and life in general.  It follows that people who see the moon through a screen of ash will see it as being a darker color.  It will shine red, like blood.

   The statement, the stars of heaven fell to the earth, leaves much room for confusion.  Clearly, the stars we see, are suns of other solar systems, and since anyone of those suns is many times larger than our earth there is no way that stars (in plural) could land on the earth.  Four different authors have three different answers to this problem.

   Wuest# translates it as the meteors of the heavens fell to the earth.  If we were to accept this translation, the fact that John uses the simile of a fig tree losing its fruit in a storm, certainly indicates that many meteorites will be hurtling this way.  

  Mr Smith** agrees with Wuest, but specifies that the meteorite shower happened on Nov. 13, 1833.

   Unger says stars denote the princes, rulers, and nobles of the earth.  This, however, is an illogical explanation, if one accepts the apparent changes in the sun, moon and the great earthquake as actually, physically happening.  In his translation, he did not explain in what sense these people fell to the earth, or why only the important people fell.  

   Foster*** says the word, unto, (as it is used in the KJV), is often translated as toward and that is the way it should be translated here.  His meaning is that the stars come closer to the earth, but not onto the earth.  This seems somewhat illogical; with all the havoc on the earth, caused by the great earthquake, would the people of the earth be at all concerned about what the stars are doing in the heavens; or would it even be visible through the cloud of ash?

   Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up.  The word recede can mean to pull away.  Wuest# uses the word, removed.  In ancient times, after the reader was finished with portions of scripture, or other writings, the scroll was rolled together.  That is, the two spools that held the parchment were rolled one toward the other, to be put away for safe keeping, until the next time it was needed.  Like that, John records, the atmosphere will be rolled up.  Every mountain and island were moved, refers back to the great earthquake of 6:12.



   From the richest king to the poorest slave, all will hide in the caves and in the rocks.  Every one of them will say to the mountains and rocks, fall on us and hide us from the face of Almighty God and from the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come.  With such a great upheaval in the earth’s crust, it is believable that many caves and rocks, to hide in or under, would become available.

   About the sixth seal, Wycliffe Bible Commentary writes, Events transpiring at the opening of the sixth seal must be placed at the end of this age.  That would mean it must happen before the return of Christ.  

  In order to do that, a rearrangement of the book of The Revelation is necessary, and that seems to be the only logical way to get a meaningful grasp on The Revelation.

  Each trumpet blast and each associated bowl of wrath is the same event; the effects will have residual consequences and these will follow in sequence with the seventh trumpet/the seventh bowl being the last one.

  Having...in his hand a sharp sickle. 14:14  The great day of His wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand? 6:17  A well-known TV preacher said that when he “gets to heaven he is going to strut into God's presence”.  We can rest assured that after the angels have finished their reaping, and have cut proud people down at their knees; their strutting days will be over!

_______________________________


** A Commentary of Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, Seventh Day Adventist.
#   An Expanded Translation, K.W. Wuest.
*** Shadow of the Antichrist by Ivan Foster, Free Presbyterian

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Reigning Priesthood

I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 
But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. 20:4-6 

   Earlier, we read about these thrones and those who sat on them; Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 4:4. It was suggested that, on the practical side, the crowns of gold were the communication devices of the "away team".   From the aesthetic point of view, the fact that they are wearing golden crowns suggests that they are the ones who have authority.

   After saying that, John said, I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded. The word "soul" can be used to mean the whole person, body and all.   John is not saying that he saw naked, bodiless souls; what he meant is that he saw the people who were martyred by beheading or otherwise.

   If we concur, that the first four seals; the five horsemen of The Apocalypse, ride throughout history, we certainly can see that the fifth seal, which speaks of the martyrs, also runs throughout all of history, and fits into this section about the altar.  The altar, mentioned here, is the same golden altar around which the souls of those which were martyred for the Word of God were seen in 6:9.
                                                                                                   
Those people who had suffered martyrdom, for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  John does not say that they were the ones sitting on the thrones, and based on the order of the sentences in this verse, it does not seem to be what he wants to imply.  First, he speaks about those that sat on the thrones and says they were in positions of judgment.  


Then, separately, he says, and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus.  When John saw the martyred saints, he says about them; this is the first resurrection.  John makes it very clear that no people, the rest of the dead, Christian and non-Christian, lived again until the thousand years were finished.  

Bible teachers should put aside the idea that "when we die we go to be with Jesus".  That is a totally unscriptural teaching!  Notice this verse that rejects that theory.  Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they (the martyred saints) shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years.  20:6 

   In 6:10-11 the martyrs ask, How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” ... and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.  This means that their vindication will not happen before the history of the Church, on earth, is finished and the last martyr has died.  Therefore the Millennium, cannot happen before the rapture of the church.

   However, if the Millennium coincides with the time that Satan is in prison, and we know that after Satan has been in prison for one thousand years, (an unspecified length of time), he is released from prison to harass the Church again.  This means that there will be more martyrs after the Millennium is finished.  Consequently, based on 6:11, the martyrs cannot have been ruling during the Millennium.

  

Prayers and Incense


Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. 8:3-5 

   By saying, another angel, John is separating it from the first seven angels that he had just seen.  The fact that this angel is offering incense and prayers just before the first trumpet sounds may indicate that Jehovah, in His mercy, once more is waiting to hear the prayers of the saints before His unmitigated fury strikes the earth.  

   Perhaps the incense and prayers together will soften His judgments, if the Church indeed will pray.  The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. As already mentioned, God is pleased when we pray.  Let my prayer be set before You as incense. Psalm 141:2
    
 When Jehovah gets involved things get serious.   There were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.  This phrase, with variations, is found four times throughout the book.

  The similarities between the sixth seal and the first six trumpets and the first six bowls of wrath are too great to ignore.   I believe that the sixth seal is a condensed version of the first six trumpets and the first six bowls of wrath, yet to come.  The seventh seal is delayed for a while, just as the seventh trumpet and the seventh bowl of wrath are.  Of course, the plan is to study each of these in the appropriate time frame.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Martyred Saints at the Alter


A Great Multitude


After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 
and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 7:9-10 

  After the servants of our God have been sealed on their foreheads the seventh seal may be opened.

  When John had finished seeing the “video” in which the Jews were sealed (v.4), he saw a different video, which he introduces with these words, After these things I looked.  He is no longer talking about those that were sealed.  He is talking about a great multitude, so large in fact, that no man could count all the people.  

   This group included people from every nation.  Praise the Lord that includes us!  This large crowd, clothed with white robes, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb.  With a loud voice, we are saying, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! The Living Bible has changed this to an easier to understand phrase; Salvation comes from our God upon the throne, and from the Lamb.

   Oh, what a resurrection day that will be!   Those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb will all be dressed in white robes, waving palm branches and shouting out at the top of our lungs, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb who has cleansed us!
   

Martyred Saints at the Alter


When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. 6:9-11  

    After the fifth seal was opened, John saw under the altar, the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God.  Not literally underneath the altar, but rather, at the foot of the altar, and probably on their knees; Weymouth has: I saw at the foot of the altar.  All the other Bible translations which I checked, use the word under or underneath.

  This altar corresponds to the altar of incense in Solomon's temple: And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer. And many incenses were given to him, so that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints on the golden altar before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God from the angel's hand. 8:3-4.   

   These saints who were martyred for Jesus are waiting for Jehovah to keep His promise, for He has said, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay. Rom.12:19.  They are asking, How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood?  They were told to wait a little longer because there will be more martyrs coming.  To us, this does not seem like a pleasant thought, but those people, who have been martyred or will be martyred receive white robes.  Those white robes they receive right then, but God's revenge must wait until He is ready.

   A point of interest that might be mentioned here is that those members of radical religious groups who kill themselves while they are killing others will not be given credit as martyrs - they will simply get the punishment meted out to mass murderers.

   Concerning this seal Mr Smith** writes, The cruel work of Roman Catholicism did not altogether cease … Rome added hundreds of thousands to the vast throng of whose blood she had already become guilty.  In making this statement about the Roman Catholics he is too narrow in his thinking.  What about the Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, Calvinists or any other group of people who have killed people because of what they believed; will the Lord not also judge those murderers?

Satan is locked Up


Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; He cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things, he must be released for a little while. 20:1-3  

   In the Bible, the final destruction of Satan is recorded in the same paragraph as his release from prison together with the last battle on earth.  However, the battle of Armageddon, the last battle on earth, is specifically mentioned in 16:16 and referred to in 19:11-21 which is an indication that at least some events mentioned in the book of The Revelation happen within the time period of 20:7-10.  This is another argument for the belief that The Apocalypse must be rearranged from the order in which we have received it.

    The fifth, sixth and seventh trumpet blasts and bowls of wrath are called woes because they were more intense than the first four trumpets and bowls were.  The reason for that is because just before the last three were poured out Satan had just been released from prison.  

   Fittingly, the destruction of Satan, 20:10, is recorded after the Rapture of the Church, which is found in 11:15-19 and 19:1-10, and the rapture happens later than the Battle of Armageddon, which is recorded in Chapters 9, 16 and 20. Does that sound confusing?  Hang in there and hopefully, with time, it will sort itself out.

   The angel laid hold of the dragon, which in 9:11, is called, The Destroyer, and bound him with the great chain that he had in his hand and threw him into the bottomless pit.  There The Destroyer will stay for one thousand years.  

Concerning the thousand years of peace, Asimov^ has this to say.  There may be a mystic symmetry here...First the earth will endure six millennium of labour, strife, evil and sin, one for each of the six days of creation. For with God one day is like a thousand years. ...Then for the seventh day of rest the earth will spend one millennium under the Messiah. Only then, when the Millennium is over, can the world indeed come to an end.

   Just to refresh our memory, in speaking of the sealing of the 144,000, Foster says that one thousand represents many so that literally there were sealed twelve times many.   If we are to use the same reasoning here, the word one thousand years simply means many years.  Therefore, according to many Bible students, it would be an unspecified length of time. 


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** A Commentary of Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, Seventh Day Adventist.
^ Guide to the Bible, Isaac Asimov