Sunday, May 31, 2020

Revelation Day 13

Is the Kingdom now? Will the church (Christianity, Kingdom of God) grow or be extinguished in the course of time? How does this relate to Satan’s binding?

Day 13

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, May 31, 2020

Is the Kingdom current?

According to Scripture…yes. Several passages indicating the Kingdom is now are: Matthew 4:17, 21:38-45; Luke 9:27, 17:21; 22:18 (with John 19:29-30); Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 4:20; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 1:9, among others. See also Matthew 3:2 and 10:7. 

Daniel 2:44 makes it clear that during the reign of these beasts (4 kingdoms), which the last (Rome) engulfed the others, God would set up a Kingdom. This limits the Kingdom’s beginning to a time during the Roman reign. [1]

            Inauguration of the Kingdom

The inauguration of the Kingdom began with Christ. Jesus lived an earthly life during the reign of Rome. At the Last Supper, Christ said that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He “drinks it a new in the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 26:29, Mark 14:25, Luke 22:18), nor would He eat the bread with them (Luke 22:16) until in the Kingdom.

The solution is simple? When does Scripture say Jesus again had fruit of the vine (wine, grape juice, vinegar, sour wine, etc.) and had bread with them. At one point on the Cross, Jesus refused to drink of sour wine (Matthew 27:34). But later, at the right time, He did  drink wine in John 19:28-30 when He finally said, “it is finished”.

Regarding bread, Christ ate as well after the Resurrection with His disciples (John 21:13). So by Christ’s own requirements for the Kingdom, it is in place since He ate and drank the bread and wine “a new” in the Kingdom!

Consider also that if there is a King, there is a Kingdom. Jesus is the King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:15) and all authority on heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18) had been given to Him. Consider that Christ currently sits at the right hand of the Father on the throne of God and even testified to the Father when Stephen was being stoned (Acts 2:33, Matthew 19:28, Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 1:13, Acts 7:56). So there is a Kingdom and it has been inaugurated.

Kingdom growth

From Scripture, the Kingdom of God/Christianity or otherwise Kingdom of Heaven will gradually dominate due to the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3): Matthew 13:31-33, 16:18; Luke 13:18-21; Habakkuk 2:14; Daniel 2:35, 7:13-18, among others. Even today, as bad as it seems in some parts of the world, there are still more Christians today, than there ever has been.

Consider Revelation 11:15 – the gospel is free to take over these kingdoms – they have been given to Christ when all authority was given to Him and therefore, Satan’s stronghold was destroyed (the strong man, the devil, was bound/limited in what he could do—Matthew 12:29).

Furthermore, Christianity only started with a handful of faithful upon the resurrection. We need to be careful of looking at our temporal times in our local regions of the world and look at the big picture. Romans 4:13 indicates Abraham would be the heir of the world through the righteousness of faith (Christianity) and not by the Law and oral traditions/Talmud (Judaism).[2]

This is to be expected. God, the Holy Spirit, doesn’t fail at His task after all. Most eschatological positions (except Post-millennialism) have the Holy Spirit failing and Jesus has to come and rescue the world [again] due to the Holy Spirit’s failed attempt. However, these passages confirm the contrary; that the Holy Spirit will accomplish His work of converting the nations. 

Is Satan’s binding limited?

Yes. He was bound so that he could not “deceive the nations” for a thousand year time (Revelation 20:3). In other words, the strong man (Satan) was bound by Christ; so now Satan’s kingdom (Matthew 12:26, Ephesians 2:2) can be plundered (Mark 3:27) and returned to its rightful place under Christ, the last Adam, whose dominion shall be forever (Daniel 4:34, 1 Peter 4:11, 1 Peter 5:11, Jude 1:25, and Revelation 1:6).

Hence, the Gospel will progress and be effective in the nations until the time of Satan’s release where he will again have the power to “deceive the nations” (Matthew 28:18-20). This is why the gospel was able to go to all nations and continues to convert against all odds. Recall, the Holy Spirit will prevail against all opposition. 

[1] This is why Dispensational Pre-millennialism requires the revival of the Roman Empire (the fourth beast) to come back into existence in due time so that the alleged future kingdom of Jesus can be established. But is that really necessary? 
[2] Judaism is not Old Testament religion, but is based on the oral traditions of the fathers in how they interpret, reinterpret and deviate from the Old Testament. These traditions have been written down about A.D. 200-500 and are the Talmud. There is the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. Essentially, Judaism today is a subtraction of the New Testament Scripture and an addition of the Talmudic teachings. See: David Abrahams, Judaism, World Religions and Cults, Volume 1, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2016.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Revelation Day 12

Does Revelation reveal to the readers that there is indeed imagery and that that imagery requires interpretation?  

Does the parable of the vineyard have anything to do with Revelation? 

What did the Jews look for in the Messiah?

Day 12

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, May 29, 2020

Yes, there is immense amounts of imagery: Revelation 1:12-20; 4:6; 5:5-13; 7:14; 9:7; 9:17; 12:3-4; 12:14-15; 13:11; 14:15; 16:13; 17:6-15; 19:15; 21:10, 21:16.  Take note that interpretations given were expected to settle any issues.

The parable of the vineyard does indeed relate. Compare Matthew 21:33-45 with Revelation 1:7 and Luke 19:41-44. According to Isaiah 5:1-16, Israel is the vineyard. Other parables may also hint at this such as the culmination in Matthew 22:7 of the wedding banquet. 

The Jews were looking for a Messiah to be a powerful military leader to set up an earthly kingdom. This is similar to Dispensational Pre-millennialism of today, where the belief is that Christ will return and set up a military kingdom that will conquer the world by sword, then, as some have stated, will be driven back to Jerusalem for a final battle. In the dispensational understanding, Christ was supposed to have been crowned king 2,000 years ago, but since the Jews rejected him as king, then we are waiting for this to happen in the future.   

After Jesus miraculously fed five thousand, the Jews tried to take Jesus and make Him their king. Jesus, knowing this, instead withdrew to the mountainside (John 6:14-15) and avoided them.

If this were not enough, Jesus made it clear that His Kingdom was not meant to be an earthly kingdom when He said to Pilate in John 18:36, “Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (NKJV).

Christ is currently King and sitting on the Throne of God at the right hand of the Father. All authority on heaven and earth have already been given to Him upon the resurrection. Christ does not need to set up a kingdom on earth again since He is currently the King of Kings and has all authority in this world already (Matthew 28:18, 1 Timothy 6:13-16, Revelation 19:16). 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Revelation Day 11

Should Revelation be taken literally? And if a first century audience was supposed to understand Revelation, shouldn’t we limit our interpretations to events and literature of that day?

Day 11

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, May 28, 2020

First, no one takes the entire book of Revelation in an absolute/wooden literal sense (e.g., “beasts” has previously been interpreted in Scripture as world empires [e.g., Daniel 7:23], so the beast in Revelation is without doubt talking of an empire). So the issue is not about Revelation being literal but how much should be seen as literal and how much is imagery and metaphorical. We have previously seen that Scripture should be taken plainly/straightforward so this makes sense–taking Revelation in the sense it is written--which is prophetic writing.

Other writings by John that are generally literal historical narrative have metaphorical meanings sprinkled within (John 2:19-20; 3:3-10; 8:31-36; 18:33-37; adults called “little children” in 1 John, among others). So we should expect metaphorical allusions by John in Revelation. These need to be recognized by other passages of Scripture (Scripture interprets Scripture). 

Regarding the second question, yes, this makes the most sense for the bulk of the events. Of course, there are events that are to take place at the end and all agree on those (e.g., the curse is removed in Revelation 22:3 [Genesis 3:17, Roman 8:20-22]; no more crying, Revelation 21:4, et cetera).

But it would be unwise to turn on modern news sources and use that information to interpret themes contained in the book of Revelation. If one does look to references outside of Scripture, then it should be limited as much as possible to 1st century writings.   

Re-read Revelation 1-4:1  

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Revelation Day 10

Are the sun, moon, and stars in Revelation in reference to the literal sun, moon, and the stars (Revelation 6:12, 8:12, and 12:1)?

Day 10

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, May 27, 2020

The context indicates something that yields a metaphorical nature. Here are the verses in question:

Revelation 6:12  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.
Revelation 8:12  Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.
Revelation 12:1  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. (NKJV)

Phrases such as the “woman clothed with the sun”, the “moon became like blood”, the “sun became black”, a “third of the sun was stuck and it only shown a third of the day”, help us realize that this needs to be interpreted by other Scriptures and not in a “wooden” literal sense.

Acts 2:20 nearly mimics where the “the sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood”. The Gospel accounts in the context of tribulation and the Temple’s and Jerusalem’s destruction say:

Matthew 24:29  "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Mark 13:24-25  "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; "the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
Luke 21:25  "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; (NKJV)

But this is still not the first metaphorical use of Sun, Moon, and Stars. Such things were prophesied previously by Joel in 2:10; 2:31; and 3:15. Other prophets use this imagery as well such as Isaiah in 13:10. So where is this imagery from? The answer is in Genesis. The first use of a metaphorical nature of the Sun, Moon, and Stars is:

Genesis 37:9-10
Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, "Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me." So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father [Israel] rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?" (NKJV)

This image of Israel (i.e., Jacob and the twelve tribes) were seen as the sun, moon, and stars collectively. So the meaning reveals itself that Israel will be darkened (e.g., Matthew 21:33-44Matthew 23:31-39) and turned to blood as Jesus indicated would happen with their destruction.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Revelation Day 9

Are we living in the “end times”?

Day 9

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, May 26, 2020

In the book of Daniel, there are passages discussing the time of the end (e.g., Daniel 8:17-26; 12:4-9). This is but a precursor of the Bible passages that discuss the end times.

In the New Testament, the Bible pinpoints the beginning of the end times. The "last days" began just under 2,000 years ago (Acts 2:17 confirming the instigation of the end times from the prophet Joel in Joel 2:28-32), Hebrews 1:2 [“last days”], and James 5:3 [“last days”]).

Another passage alluding to the end times is 2 Timothy 3:1-4, where Timothy is told to avoid those people infiltrating in these “last days” whose heart is not focused on Christ and the fruits of the Spirit. There will be more on the day of judgment/last day in Days 16 and 18.  

Monday, May 25, 2020

Revelation Day 8

When is the tribulation to take place? Were the churches that John was writing to undergoing persecution, suffering, and tribulation as well?

Day 8

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, May 25, 2020

Many places in Revelation indicate the churches were already undergoing tribulation and suffering: Revelation 2:9-10; 3:9-10; 6:9-11; 11:7-18; 12:10; 13:10; 14:11-13; 16:5-6; 17:6; 18:20-24; 19:2; 20:4-6.

According to John, he is living in the tribulation as of the writing of the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:9). Furthermore, Jesus previously told the disciples in Matthew 24:9 that they will be delivered “up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.”

And so this confirms that the apostles, such as John, will be in it. John was banished to Patmos (where he wrote Revelation) for Christ’s name’s sake (Revelation 1:9). Peter and Paul were killed by the Roman emperor, Nero, per early Christian historian Eusebius (II.25).

Mark 13:19-24 also confirms that disciples will be in the tribulation. Even Paul informed those at Thessalonica that the tribulation would come and had forewarned them. He writes to them while they were undergoing it (1 Thessalonians 3:1-6). So this should call into question the interpretation that the recipients of the letter of Revelation would have had in mind a tribulation in the far future.

Read Revelation 10:11-18:24. (Yes again, this seems like a lot to read but remember once again, it is only a small part of a letter—Day 26 will help explain some of the imagery here but I wanted you to have an initial read in preparation.)

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Revelation Day 7

Should the letter of Revelation have been understandable to the recipients?

Day 7

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, May 24, 2020

The seven churches were to whom the book of Revelation was written. So they should have been able to understand it. Revelation 1:1-3 indicates that this letter was written as an unveiling or disclosing, which is the meaning of “Revelation”, to those it was written. In Revelation 1:1, it is to “to show His servants—things which must shortly take place”.

In Revelation 1:3, it says “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it.” So logically, they needed to understand it if they were to keep it.

Read Revelation 5-10:10. (Yes, you are right, this seems like a lot to read but remember, it is only a small part of a letter after all.)

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Revelation Day 6

According to Revelation, when were the prophecies to take place?

Day 6   

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, May 23, 2020

“Soon”, “quickly”, “the time is near”, or “time is at hand” per Revelation 1:1, 1:3, 2:16, 3:11, 22:6, and 22:10. But also consider other potential interpretive passages for being at hand, end of the ages, near, etc., in other portions of Scripture such as Matthew 26:18; John 2:13; Luke 21:20, 1 Corinthians 10:9-11, 1 Peter 4:7, and James 5:7-8.

New Testament Christians were being prepared for something that was soon to happen. It would seem outrageous that Christians receiving the New Testament letters, including Revelation, would read these “near time” indicators and assume this was thousands of years into the future. 

In the Old Testament, when Daniel was confused about certain issues presented to him, the Lord said to seal up (i.e., shut up the prophecy) similar in reference to Job 41:15. The prophecy (e.g., Daniel 8:26, 12:4) pertained to the distance future. Unlike Daniel, the Lord informs John not to seal up (Revelation 22:10) the prophecy of the book of Revelation (though there was one instance where John was not to record something but instead seal that up). But this helps us realize the imminence in timing of the prophecies to a first century reader in the seven churches. 

When the Lord Jesus spoke to Peter in John 21:18-22 prophesying about His coming, He made it clear that Peter would die before His coming. And the disciple that Jesus loved may remain.  Peter knowing his end is in sight in 2 Peter 1:14-17, reiterated that coming of the Lord had not happened yet as he was still alive. This is why cleverly devised schemes saying the Lord had come were false (e.g., 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). This puts the date of the Lord’s coming after Peter’s death (A.D. 68, by Nero) but before the death of John.

This also reveals that in many instances a first century understanding of the “coming of the Lord” in the context of judgment is not in reference to an end of the world, last day event. They were under the impression that the Lord had come, and yet the world hadn’t ended. These are two unique events: the coming judgment on the Jews and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.   

Revelation Day 5

How should Revelation be interpreted?

Day 5

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, May 22, 2020

It is written as prophecy, so it should be interpreted as prophecy. Proverbs 8:8-9, 2 Corinthians 4:2, and so on indicate that the Word of God should be taken plainly/straightforward. With this, metaphors are metaphors, songs are songs, literal history is literal history, prophecy is prophecy, and so on. 

So it would be unwise to interpret Revelation as anything other than prophecy and this makes it a unique book among the New Testament collection. In every case, one should keep in mind context and culture, and thus, take the grammatical, historical approach where Scripture interprets Scripture, so when in doubt, always go with clear passages to interpret passages that are unclear (Acts 17:11). This is surely one aspect of what is meant by rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Prophetic books in the Old Testament were essentially about judgment (or the threat thereof). It would be wise to consult the prophetic books in the Old Testament for allusions and quotations and how they were used.

Well-known research by Merrill Tenney [professor of theological studies and dean of the Graduate School of Theology at Wheaton College] found that there are 348 clear references and allusions (so there could be more) to the Old Testament in Revelation. The breakdown was:

57 Pentateuch (5 books of Moses)
235 Prophets
56 Historical and Poetic Books

This does not include New Testament quotes and allusions, but so much depends on the Old Testament. So a good grasp on the Old Testament, especially the prophetic books, would be wise for proper understanding of the book of Revelation. It is maintained by this author that without a proper understanding of Old Testament prophecy, it would be difficult to understand New Testament prophecy.

Table 2: Old Testament Prophetic Books[1]:

About whom (primarily)?
Major theme or threat:
Four beasts/kingdoms: Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greece, and Rome
Judgment and demise
Jerusalem and others
Judah and other nations
Edom (Esau)
Israel, Judah and other nations
Judah, Israel, and Samaria
Judah and other nations
Jews who returned from captivity
Judgment of gentile nations and restoration from Judgment
Jews who returned from captivity
Restoration from Judgment, but future judgment

Do not forget that Revelation is a prophetic book of judgment. 12 of the 16 Old Testament books of prophecy were directed toward Israelite nations (e.g., Jews, Israel, Judah, Samaria, and Jerusalem) who were or had been in rebellion against God. The follow up question is simple. To whom is the major judgment about in Revelation?

[1.]  At the onset of the book of Revelation, we see judgmental words to six of the seven churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). But this is more of an encouragement to stand strong and endure until the coming judgment discussed further in the book (Revelation 1:11-4:1). 

[2.]  The majority of the book of Revelation discusses the judgment of the Harlot/Prostitute also figuratively called the “Great City”, Babylon, Sodom, Egypt, which is described as the place where the Lord was crucified (e.g., Revelation 11:8, 17:15-16, 19:2; see also Deuteronomy 28:27, 28:60, 29:23; Isaiah 1:9-10; 3:8-9; Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16:1-2, 16:44-58; Amos 4:10-11; Lamentations 4:6). In the judgment, the Harlot is destroyed by the very Beast she rides (Revelation 17:1-16).

[3.]  At the end of Revelation, we also see the final judgment of the great Dragon, Serpent of old, Devil, or Satan who is bound (restrained), then released, and then eternally cast into Hell (Revelation 20:2, 20:10). We also see the demise of the beast and the false prophet in Hell (Revelation 20:10), and the unbelievers for eternity (Revelation 20:12-15). This portion of the book is about the eternality of judgment and the eternality of life for those in Jesus Christ. 

More on these identifications in due time—for example on Day 20 is a discussion of the Harlot. 

[1] There were many prophets, including Moses; and there were other prophets, who wrote no books like Abel or Nathan.

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