When Polycarp brought his tired body into the arena, he and the other Christians heard a voice from heaven. The crowd then demanded that Polycarp be burnt. The old man remembered the dream about the burning pillow, and took courage in God. I fear not the fire that burns for a season and after a while is quenched. Why do you delay? Come, do your will. They arranged a great pile of wood and set up a pole in the middle. A great wall of flame shot up to the sky, but it never touched Polycarp. God set a hedge of protection between him and the fire. Seeing that he would not burn, the executioner, in a furious rage, stabbed the old man with a long spear.
Immediately, streams of blood gushed from his body and seemed to extinguish the fire. When this happened, witnesses said they saw a dove fly up from the smoke into heaven. Nevertheless, the day of martyrs is definitely not past. All over the world, Christians face persecution, especially in Asia, Eastern Europe, and in the Muslim world.
Some people estimate that more Christians have suffered and died for their faith in the 20 th Century than in all previous centuries combined. A May news item illustrates this: The gruesome martyrdom of a pastor in central India led to several hundred conversions to Christianity. A former Hindu who had changed his name to Paul James was murdered by a crowd of extremists as he spoke in a field prior to a Feb.
The attackers also decapitated James, an outspoken believer who had planted 27 churches. The murder has drawn heavy media attention in the area, which is charged with Hindu-Muslim tensions. Anand Paul, head of Gospel to the Unreached Millions. People need to pray for us. He who overcomes : This was a promise for overcomers. This promise is for those who overcome the threat of persecution, and the presence of persecution. We might say that we overcome by our close association with Jesus, who is the ultimate overcomer.
As Jesus said, In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world John Shall not be hurt by the second death : Those who overcome in Jesus will never be hurt by the second death. The second death is hell, the lake of fire Revelation and Though Satan threatened and attacked their life, Jesus promises His overcomers that death is conquered for them.
When John wrote, Pergamos had been the capital city of the region for more than three hundred years. The city was a noted center for culture and education, having one of the great libraries of the ancient world, with more than , volumes. Pergamos : This was also an extremely religious city. It also had three temples dedicated to the worship of the Roman Emperor. Some 50 years before Smyrna won the honor of building the first temple to Tiberius, the city of Pergamos won the right to build the first temple to worship Caesar Augustus in the province of Asia.
Pergamos : This city was especially known as a center for the worship of the deity known as Asclepios. Represented by a serpent, Asclepios was the god of healing and knowledge. There was a medical school at his temple in Pergamos. Because of the famous temple to the Roman god of healing, sick and diseased people from all over the Roman Empire flocked to Pergamos for relief. In the temple there were tame snakes.
In the night the sufferer might be touched by one of these tame and harmless snakes as it glided over the ground on which he lay. The touch of the snake was held to be the touch of the god himself, and the touch was held to bring health and healing. He who has the sharp two-edged sword : In Revelation , John observed of Jesus out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. The description of the sword in Revelation helps us to associate it with the mouth of Jesus.
Jesus will confront this church with His word, and they will feel the sharp edges. Sharp two-edged sword : This reminds us of the passage in Hebrews For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Jesus would use this sharp two-edged sword to make some separation among the Christians in Pergamos. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My f aithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. I know your works : Jesus said this to each church. It is true of each one of us. There are many different opinions as to why Pergamos was such a stronghold of Satanic power. Some believe it was because Pergamos was a center for the ancient Babylonian priesthood, but this is tough to prove conclusively. Others believe it was because Pergamos was the political center of the worship-demanding Roman government.
And you hold fast to My name : Despite the fact they lived in such a difficult city, the Christians of Pergamos held fast to their faith in Jesus hold fast to My name… did not deny My faith. Did not deny My faith : Jesus praised the Christians of Pergamos because they did not deny His faith. It is always important to make sure that the faith we hold on to is the faith that belongs to Jesus. Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you : One specific man among the Christians of Pergamos received a precious title faithful martyr.
This same title was held by Jesus also Revelation Antipas was a man who followed Jesus, who was like Jesus. Antipas is one of the great almost-anonymous heroes of the Bible. History tells us nothing about him except for here. Yet he stood against the attacks and the evil around him. Martyr is the ancient Greek word martus. In classical Greek martus never means a martyr in our sense of the term. It always means a witness. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. I have a few things against you : The Christians in Pergamos were rightly praised for holding fast to the name of Jesus and keeping his faith. At the same time, their difficult environment did not excuse the few things Jesus had against them. You have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam : Balaam was a prototype of all corrupt teachers. According to Numbers and 31, Balaam combined the sins of immorality and idolatry to please Balak, the king of Moab, because he could not curse Israel directly.
When Balaam counseled Balak, he taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel. The stumbling block was connected with idolatry to eat things sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality. If the church in Pergamos had those who did hold the doctrine of Balaam , it showed they had tendencies towards both idolatry and immorality. Sexual immorality marked the whole culture of the ancient Roman Empire.
It was simply taken for granted, and the person who lived by Biblical standards of purity was considered strange. I am not able to deny the principle he stands on. But he contradicts, not only with the freedom our age allows, but also with the customs and allowances of our ancestors. When indeed was this not done? When did anyone find fault with it? When was such permission denied? When was it that what is now allowed was not allowed? You also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans : In Revelation , Jesus praised the Ephesian Christians because they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans.
But the Nicolaitans also had their doctrine , and some among the Christians of Pergamos held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. What is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans? The title Nico-laitans has the idea of a proud authority and a hierarchical separatism. You have those there… you also have those : The rebuke was not only against those who hold the doctrines of Balaam and those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The rebuke was also against those who allowed them to continue you have there those… you have those.
They were too tolerant and accepting of false doctrines and immoral living, and Jesus had to rebuke them. So Satan tried to accomplish his goals by using deception. The strategy was first violence , then alliance. A difficult environment never justifies compromise. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
Repent : The simple word repent stands out. Five of the seven churches are commanded to repent. Repent is a command that applies to Christians, not only to those who first come to Jesus. Or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth : Unless they do repent , the Christians of Pergamos would face the Jesus who has the two-edged sword.
Judgment will begin at the house of God 1 Peter He who has an ear : The danger of false teaching and immoral conduct still faces the church today. So does the danger of allowing false teaching and immorality, as was the problem with the Christians in Pergamos. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.
To him who overcomes : The one who overcomes this spirit of accommodation to false teaching and living will receive hidden manna. And I will give him a white stone : In the ancient world, the use of a white stone had many associations. A white stone could be a ticket to a banquet, a sign of friendship, evidence of having been counted, or as a sign of acquittal in a court of law. Jesus may have any one of these meanings in mind, but at the very least we know that it has the assurance of blessing.
And on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it : What is the meaning of this new , secret name promised to him who overcomes? One idea behind this new, secret name is that it shows what an intimate relationship we have with God. This is probably the same idea. Another idea associated with the new name is simply the assurance it gives of our heavenly destination. Your name is there, waiting for you. Thyatira : This was the smallest and least important of the seven cities Jesus addresses in Revelation 2 and 3. In history, we have no record that the Christians of Thyatira suffered any significant political or religious persecution.
Thyatira : Still, this city was a center of business and trade. It had many active trade guilds, each having their own patron deity from the Greek and Roman pantheon of gods.
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Acts mentions Lydia of Thyatira, who was a seller of purple cloth from the city of Thyatira. These things says the Son of God : Jesus first described Himself with a title that emphasized His deity. In Jewish thought, to be the son of a thing meant you had the nature of that thing. The sons of the sorceress Isaiah had the nature of the sorceress.
Seven Deadly Spirits: The Message of Revelation's Letters for Today's Church
The sons of thunder Mark had a nature like thunder. So the Son of God has the divine nature, the nature of God. Who has eyes like a flame of fire : Jesus chose this description of Himself from the presentation in Revelation to emphasize the idea that His eyes looked with penetrating judgment. His feet like fine brass : Jesus chose this description of Himself from Revelation to emphasize His purity because brass is pure and highly refined in the fire. It also emphasized His steadfastness , because brass was the strongest known metal in the ancient world, and feet like fine brass would be strong and unmovable.
I know your works : Thyatira was the least significant city among the seven cities Jesus addressed, yet they were not hidden to Jesus. Love, service, faith, and your patience : In many ways, the church at Thyatira was a model church. They had four great essential qualities. They had love , both for the Lord and for one another. They knew service , and had faith and patience worth mentioning. As for your works, the last are more than the first : This was another compliment to the church at Thyatira. Not only did they have these works , but they had them in increasing measure — they were growing in love, service, faith, and patience.
Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Nevertheless : Despite all the good Jesus saw in the church at Thyatira, there were significant problems.
Because you allow that woman Jezebel : The center of the corruption at the church at Thyatira was a woman Jesus called Jezebel. This may not have been her literal name, but a title that clearly represented a self-styled prophetess within the church, after the pattern of Jezebel in the Old Testament 1 Kings and 2 Kings The name Jezebel had a powerful association.
Message to Sardis - Revelation
If we call someone a Judas or a Hitler it means something strong. It was also a strong thing to call this woman Jezebel. Some ancient Greek manuscripts state the phrase that woman Jezebel as your woman Jezebel or your wife Jezebel. Yet, it seems the Christians there received her as a prophetess , and that is why Jesus gave them this warning. In this letter Paul explains his circumstances, thanks Christians living in Philippi for a recent financial gift, This comprehensive textbook by a well-respected Reformed theologian brings together two perennial issues in Christian This comprehensive textbook by a well-respected Reformed theologian brings together two perennial issues in Christian theology: the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and ecclesiology.
It demonstrates the importance of the Holy Spirit in empowering the being and mission of the In the emotional debate surrounding evolution, it is often difficult to cut through the competing In the emotional debate surrounding evolution, it is often difficult to cut through the competing agendas to gain an unbiased understanding of the scientific issues involved. The Evolution Controversy provides a resource for doing so. The authors leave aside the High Impact African-American Churches. Throughout our nation, hundreds of vibrant African-American churches are leading people to deep, life-changing spiritual Throughout our nation, hundreds of vibrant African-American churches are leading people to deep, life-changing spiritual transformations.
With visionary leadership, powerful worship, challenging faith formation strategies, and a strong sense of community and mission, these churches form the backbone of American Do you face well-intentioned dragons? Every church has them--sincere, well-meaning Christians who leave ulcers, strained relationships, Every church has them--sincere, well-meaning Christians who leave ulcers, strained relationships, and hard feelings in their wake.
They don't intend to be hostile; they don't consciously plot destruction or breed discontent. But they often do undermine One Church, Many Tribes. With wit, wisdom and passion, Twiss Passionate about church growth, Michael Fletcher understands the obstacles pastors and church leaders face as In ancient Israel, Megiddo was a key city along a major trade route between the kingdoms of Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Huge armies could assemble in the neighboring Jezreel Valley, or as it's sometimes called, the Plain of Esdraelon. And God's people had previously achieved military victories in Megiddo. So, it was a fitting symbol to describe the climactic battle between God's servants and his enemies. Next, John's vision paused for an interlude in Revelation , where we read this announcement:. Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed Revelation Recalling his letter to the church in Sardis in Revelation 3, Christ exhorted his followers to remain vigilant and faithful at all times.
After the interlude, the seventh bowl triggered the final destruction of the wicked. Thunder and lightning rained down. An earthquake shattered the cities of the nations. Islands sank. Mountains crumbled. And giant hailstones crushed humanity. This was the end of the age — the destruction of the present world that will take place when Christ returns. The series of seven bowls completed John's vision of coming events.
The seals, trumpets, histories and bowls all demonstrated God's commitment to intervene in history to ensure the safety and blessing of his people. And many modern enemies of the church can seem equally powerful. But God is determined to destroy his enemies and our enemies. And this should encourage every Christian in every age to remain faithful to Christ, even when we face severe opposition and oppression. Now that we've examined John's first and second visions, let's turn to his vision of the punishment of the great prostitute in Revelation — This vision takes place in the desert.
According to Revelation , this entire vision focuses on the punishment of the great prostitute, including the return of Christ, a final battle in which the forces of evil are completely defeated, the reign of those who are loyal to Christ, and the final renewal of the heavens and the earth. John designed this section to draw his audience's attention to the final blessings for those who were faithful to Christ, and to the ultimate curses that would fall on those who weren't. This twofold focus should have inspired his readers to seek God's blessings and to avoid his judgment.
There are two smaller series of visions within the vision of the punishment of the great prostitute. The first deals with God's judgment on Babylon, and the second focuses on the reign of the saints. We'll look at both series, beginning with the judgment of Babylon in Revelation — Like John's visions of the seals, trumpets, histories and bowls, his visions dealing with the judgment of Babylon also recapitulate church history. In Revelation , the city of Babylon is presented as a prostitute.
She's dressed in alluring clothes, and she glitters with gold, precious stones, and pearls. Her appearance and prostitution are symbolic of all the illicit pleasures that seduce God's people away from true worship and faithful living. But significantly, she appears in the desert, implying that she can't deliver on her offers of luxury and pleasure. And to confirm this fact, she holds a cup filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.
The prostitute also sits on a scarlet beast that has seven heads and ten horns. This is the beast from the sea described in Revelation It's covered with blasphemous names, symbolizing its own wickedness and the idolatry of those who follow it. The significance of the imagery of the prostitute and beast is then revealed in the rest of the series. Like the earlier series of the seals, trumpets, histories and bowls, the structure of this series presents six messages of judgment and lament, followed by an interlude.
But instead of a seventh message describing the final fight between Christ and his enemies, this series ends with a vision of the battle itself. The first message, found in Revelation , interprets the details of the vision of the prostitute and the beast. We can summarize this message by saying that God will completely destroy everyone and everything that opposes him. The second message, in Revelation , declares the utter defeat of Babylon and all the nations, kings and merchants she has seduced.
The third message, recorded in Revelation , calls God's people to reject Babylon, and to separate themselves from her immorality. And the fourth message, reported in Revelation , contains three laments of kings, merchants and sailors who had worshiped the beast and profited from the luxury of Babylon. Sadly, these laments didn't inspire repentance and faith in Christ.
Instead, the kings, merchants and sailors looked back longingly to the earlier time of Babylon's prosperity. In each of these messages, Babylon represents every nation and organization that opposes Christ's rule. The messages encourage Christ's followers by proclaiming that the Lord will destroy all his enemies, and that the wicked will mourn the loss of their sinful enjoyments. But the messages also warn the church not to commit these same sins, so that we don't fall under the same judgment. I think idolatry and immorality are attractive to unbelievers but very attractive to believers as well.
It's very simple. It's the forbidden fruit. It's what I want. Maybe it's there's something that I'm not supposed to have, but there's something built inside of us that says take it anyway. But I think more to the point, just frequently this stuff feels good, immorality feels good. It quenches something in the moment, but that's the point. Something that quenches in the moment doesn't necessarily have the lasting, noble, holy value that something ought to have, and that's why we've got to walk in faith to say, "What the Bible calls idolatry, what the Bible calls immorality, I'm going to go ahead and live with those definitions.
Even though in the moment it might not feel good, I know it has some lasting value to it. The fifth message in the judgment on Babylon appears in Revelation , and pronounces the complete and permanent destruction of Babylon.
The sixth message in this series is recorded in Revelation in , and contains the exuberant praise of God's people in heaven. In response to the judgment against Babylon, God's faithful people praise him. And their praise continues as they recognize that the judgment against Babylon has cleared the way for the wedding between the Lamb, who is Christ, as his bride, the church. Next, an interlude interrupts the messages in Revelation In this interlude, John is commanded to write down a blessing for all those who participate in the wedding supper of the Lamb.
Lastly, this vision series concludes with the final battle between God and his enemies, reported in Revelation Christ appears as the divine warrior and wages war against all the enemies of God. These enemies are led by the beast and the false prophet, which are, respectively, the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth from Revelation And there is no contest; the beast and the false prophet are defeated forever. Listen to how Revelation describes their downfall:. The beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf… The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur Revelation The final battle concludes all the wars God has waged on behalf of his people, and completes the victory Christ won on the cross.
Now that we've explored the judgment on Babylon, let's examine the series dealing with the reign of the saints in Revelation — This series on the reign of the saints includes three parts, beginning with the thousand year reign of the saints, commonly called the millennium, in Revelation In this section, John saw an angel descend from heaven and bind the great dragon, who is Satan. John saw that for the next thousand years, Satan would remain bound while the faithful Christian martyrs would come to life and reign with Christ. John also saw that after the thousand years, Satan would be released to gather the nations for the final battle against God, as described in Revelation At the end of this battle, all God's enemies will have been permanently destroyed.
Even Satan himself will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur forever. Most interpreters recognize that, like the rest of John's apocalyptic prophecy, Revelation 20 is highly symbolic. And believers interpret its symbols in a wide variety of ways. In fact, in the entire book of Revelation, it would be hard to find a more debated passage than this one. Broadly speaking, there are four major schools of interpretation for this passage. Each one is named in part after its understanding of the millennium or thousand years mentioned throughout this passage.
These four schools of interpretation are: historic premillennialism, dispensational premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism. Historic premillennialism and dispensational premillennialism are both premillennial systems, meaning that they believe Jesus will return before the millennium starts. By contrast, postmillennialism and amillennialism are both postmillennial systems, meaning that they believe that Jesus will return after the millennium ends.
Let's look at each of these systems in a bit more detail. Historic premillennialism is called "historic" because it's the premillennial view that has been held by different groups and theologians throughout church history. It teaches that after Jesus returns, Satan will be bound and Jesus will usher in the millennium — a thousand-year period of earthly peace and prosperity. Believers will receive resurrected bodies at the beginning of the millennium.
Unbelievers won't receive resurrected bodies. They'll live longer lives than they do now but they will still die. When the millennium ends, Satan's rebellion will take place, followed by the final judgment. And then God's eternal reign over the new heavens and new earth will begin. This view understands Revelation 20 to follow chronologically after chapter Dispensational premillennialism began to be taught in the s. There are variations within this view, especially with regard to the timing of the final events before the millennium.
But in general, Dispensational premillennialism teaches that when Jesus returns, he will restore the nation of Israel and visibly reign over the nations from his throne in Jerusalem. Near the end of the millennium, Satan will instigate a rebellion, but God will completely defeat Satan and his armies. Afterwards, the last judgment will take place, and then God's eternal reign over the new heavens and new earth will begin. Like historic premillennialism, this view understands Revelation 20 to follow chronologically after chapter In contrast with historic and dispensational premillennialism, postmillennialism teaches that Jesus will return after the millennium.
The millennium itself is thought to be either the entire period between the first and second comings of Christ, or the last thousand years before his return. In either case, during the millennium Jesus rules from heaven through his earthly church. And his kingdom progressively expands to cover and improve the entire earth. Amillennialism literally means "no millennium.
It teaches that the millennium consists of Jesus' reign over the earth, from his throne in heaven and through his church; and that Jesus will return at the end of the millennium. Amillennialism is distinct from postmillennialism in a variety of ways. For one thing, all forms of amillennialism affirm that the millennium is the entire period between the first and second comings of Christ. For another, amillennialism doesn't insist that the millennial reign of Jesus and the saints will constantly expand the kingdom and improve the world.
From an amillennial perspective, Christians will experience both the blessings of the kingdom of God and great tribulation on earth until final victory is achieved at Christ's return. There is a common, ecumenical — that is, worldwide — Christian view on certain things happening toward the end of time. And we can find those cardinal doctrines, the elements of it, in the Apostles' Creed. For example, the Apostles' Creed says that Jesus ascended into heaven, and from heaven he will return to judge the quick and the dead, or the living and the dead. So we all believe that there's going to be a final judgment, and Jesus is going to return and he's going to be involved in that, both of the living and the dead.
And of course, now, we have differences over the details of how that will work out, but we all agree that that's the case. And then later on in the Apostles' Creed it says we believe in "the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body. That is to say, people are not going to exist as spirits forever; they're going to receive their bodies again. In fact, Christians will receive glorified bodies much like Jesus had in his resurrection. So this is another teaching that should be held by all Christians even though we disagree with each other over details.
So we believe in "the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. These are elements of our outlooks on the end times or eschatology that all Christians of every variety ought to be able to affirm. Richard L. Pratt, Jr. We agree that there is going to be a ruling and a reigning of the Lord Jesus Christ through his gospel in some way, whether it involves his personal presence immediately or eventually — that's a question we're not clear on — but we know that he is going to rule, he is going to reign, and it will be a manifestation of the power of the gospel.
We know that he will judge and there will be a judgment of the sheep and the goats and there will be some who will be cast into eternal punishment because they do not have forgiveness of sin through him, and there will be others who will be called to enter into the glory that is prepared for them from before the foundation of the world. We know those things are true. We all agree on those things. We know that heaven is going to be a place where indwelleth righteousness and Christ himself will reign, and we will glory in him, and there will be no doubt as to the power and wonder of Jesus Christ.
All of us agree on that. And we could go on with other truths about these last things, this eschatology as we call it from the word eschaton. And the number of things that we agree on because of the clarity of Revelation is really quite astounding. And I think that we need to be careful not to focus so much on those areas in which we disagree, although, we need to carry on fraternal discussion about it, but we don't need to give the impression that the Bible is unclear and we really can't understand things because there are such a large number of tremendously important truths upon which we all agree when we come to discuss those matters.
Thomas J. It's important for followers of Christ to recognize that evangelical believers don't always agree, and that the question of the millennium has historically been an area of controversy. But regardless of which millennial interpretation we take, all evangelical Christians can agree that Christ will return and achieve final victory over evil, that Satan will ultimately be defeated, and that God's people will live forever under Christ's reign in a restored creation. We all share these same convictions. And as a result, we can all find great comfort and encouragement in the Bible's teaching about the millennium.
The second part of the series on the reign of the saints deals with the last judgment on God's enemies, in Revelation In this part of his vision, John witnessed God rendering final judgment on all humanity, based on their works. This judgment included everyone who had ever lived.
Believers, whose names were written in the book of life, were spared God's terrible wrath. But the rest of humanity was condemned for their sins. This aspect of the last judgment completely removed the presence and effects of sin in the world, making way for the new heavens and the new earth.
Finally, the third part of the series on the reign of the saints focuses on the last judgment for God's people, in Revelation John saw that the last judgment for God's people would be a great blessing. The heavens and earth would be remade, and a New Jerusalem would descend from heaven as the capital city of the new earth. This symbolism points to the fact that in the new heavens and new earth, God will dwell among his people.
Thoughts on T. Scott’s Seven Deadly Spirits, The Message of Revelation’s Letters for Today’s Church
God did this in the past in the Garden of Eden, in the tabernacle, and in the temple. And now he dwells with us in Christ. But in the new heavens and new earth, our fellowship with God will be even greater, because he'll manifest his glory among us, and we'll live in his physical presence forever. What I love to emphasize here is the fact that we have a new heaven and a new earth, that when the Lord does come again and does bring everything to a close, we're going to not only have a new earth, but even heaven itself is going to be touched by a newness.
William Ury]. Having surveyed John's vision of the punishment of the prostitute, let's move to his vision of the wife of the Lamb. This vision is recorded in Revelation — In his fourth vision, John was lifted onto a high mountain. According to Revelation , this vision concerned the bride, the wife of the Lamb, which was the New Jerusalem.
This vision described the never-ending beauty, peace, health, prosperity and enjoyment that will exist after the world has been cleansed from the influence and presence of all God's enemies. And when John's original audience read about it, they would have been encouraged to pursue God's blessings by living according to its ideals, and looking forward to the fullness of salvation that will come when Christ returns. One of the scenes that we see concluding the book of Revelation is the emergence of the new city, the New Jerusalem, which comes to this earth.
So it comes to this terrestrial plane. And we also notice that one of the key images of this new reality is the tree of life, which is a clear reference back to the Garden of Eden in Genesis 1. So in one sense, creation begins in a garden, but in another sense it's going to end in a city; but it seems to be connected some significant way.
The image that I have come up with that seems to comport quite well with my reading of Revelation is this world minus the evil, and if offered that proposition, I think that'd be a fairly attractive alternative, to live in a world where there is no weeping, where there is no death, where there is no pain, where there is no suffering, where there is no separation in some way between us and our creating God. Bradley T. The New Jerusalem is described in Revelation It was prepared in heaven, and then brought to the new earth.
The city was shaped as a perfect cube. Correspondingly, just as God manifested his holy presence in the Most Holy Places, he'll reveal his glory to his people in the New Jerusalem. Both the dimensions and descriptions of the New Jerusalem frequently mention the number twelve. In the Old Testament, this number is associated with the twelve tribes of Israel, representing God's people in that age.
And in the New Testament, the number twelve is associated with the twelve apostles, representing God's people in the current age. This suggests that in the New Jerusalem, God's people are present in all their diversity and distinctive cultures. Within the New Jerusalem, the river of life flowed from God's throne through the middle of the city. It nourished the tree of life, whose leaves brought healing to all the nations. This symbolized the fact that in the new earth, the curse of sin will be eradicated from creation.
The entire world will be fully renewed and healed from all the conflicts with sin that have plagued fallen human throughout our history. Finally, John saw that the New Jerusalem shone with the glory of God. The jewels and precious stones of the city reflected his richness, beauty and splendor. And beyond this, God's splendor filled the city, so that it didn't need other sources of light — including a sun or moon.
The question is, "Will the current heavens and earth be destroyed in order to make room for the new heaven and earth promised in Revelation 21? I would describe it rather as a radical transformation — with underlying the radical. So it's in some ways as if it's a destruction, but the pattern is the pattern of Christ's own resurrection body.
His resurrection body was transfigured in comparison with what it was before he died, but he still had the nail prints in his hands. That's the pattern for our resurrection, and it's also the pattern for the entire universe if you read Romans 8 beginning with verse Vern S. Certainly the new heavens and the new earth will be radically different than this heavens and earth that we're a part of now in that the curse will be removed, the effects of the Fall won't be here anymore, but I do think most Christians tend to have an overly spiritualized view of heaven that doesn't include a very real and physical new heavens and new earth where God doesn't start from scratch, but he does make new what he's already made.
He restores what's been lost tragically in the Fall. And so there will be a lot of continuity between what we have now and what is true in the new heavens and the new earth even though it will be wonderfully renewed. Erik Thoennes]. Now that we've examined John's introduction to Revelation and his series of heavenly visions, let's turn to the book's conclusion in Revelation John concluded the book of Revelation by emphasizing the fundamental messages that had been repeated throughout his visions.
He emphasized that the visions he received were trustworthy, because they had been delivered by the Lord's angel. He exhorted his readers to persevere in good works, in order to receive great blessings in the new heavens and new earth. And John also reminded his readers that the consummation of God's kingdom and the final judgment are still in the future.
So for now, Christians should faithfully persevere, and sinners should take the opportunity to repent. Revelation is a timeless message from God to his people. Regardless of our perspective on the timings and fulfillments of John's visions, all Christians should agree that the book of Revelation is as relevant today as it was when John wrote it. Our circumstance may be different, but our God hasn't changed.
And the values and perspectives John taught are still binding on us today. We can be encouraged by God's goodness in the past, present, and future. We can be confident in his love for us and his control over history. And we can respond to him in faith now and for the rest of our lives. Having discussed the purpose and details of the book of Revelation, we're ready to address our third major topic: strategies for the application of Revelation.
Our discussion of the modern application of Revelation will divide into two parts. First, we'll describe and critique four common strategies for applying the book of Revelation. And second, we'll suggest an integrated strategy that makes use of elements from all four common strategies. Let's look first at the four common strategies for applying Revelation. The first thing we should say is that each of these four strategies has something very useful to offer, but none of them is entirely sufficient on its own. The situation is reminiscent of the old story of the blind men and the elephant, where each blind man describes the part of the elephant he is touching, but none sees the whole elephant.
This story exists in different versions in different cultures. One man might touch the elephant's leg and believe the elephant is like a pillar. One might touch its ear and believe the elephant is like a hand fan. One might touch its tail and think the elephant is like a rope.
Seven Deadly Spirits
One might touch its trunk and conclude that the elephant is like a waterspout. And so on. All of them are correct insofar as their assessment goes, but none sees the whole elephant. In a similar way, there are many popular but insufficient strategies for interpreting the book of Revelation.
Each strategy examines the symbols in Revelation and decodes them according to its own perspective. But because these perspectives are so limited, each view misses the big picture and full meaning that the visions of Revelation present. The four common strategies for application that we'll survey in this lesson can be referred to as preterism, futurism, historicism, and idealism. Each differs in how it interprets the period of time the book of Revelation covers, and the manner in which its visions are fulfilled. We'll consider all four views individually, beginning with preterism.
The word "preterite" refers to things that happened in the past. Accordingly, the strategy of preterism says that most of the prophecies in the book of Revelation were fulfilled in the distant past. One form of preterism says that Revelation was written prior to the Fall of Jerusalem in A. Another form suggests that these visions were fulfilled in the Fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century A. Preterism provides a helpful focus on John's original audience.
It sees the importance of the detailed knowledge of the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. It reminds us of the real persecution those churches experienced. And it makes thematic connections between chapters 2 and 3 and the rest of the book. Preterism rightfully insists that John wasn't merely writing for future generations, and that Christ's concern for and encouragement of John's original audience should inform our modern application of the book.
And most forms of preterism rightly understand that the final chapters of Revelation speak about Christ's future return. We can draw many useful applications from this approach to Revelation. For instance, it can teach us about God's character, and the way he rewards righteousness and punishes evil. It can help us understand how to respond to crises in our world, and even give us hope in Christ's future return. But despite these valuable insights, preterism doesn't provide a complete perspective on Revelation.
For one thing, it often wrongly assumes that apocalyptic literature is written exclusively about its own time, rather than about the distant future. But the truth is that numerous apocalyptic passages in the Scriptures refer to distant future events, including Daniel 7—12, Matthew 24, and 2 Thessalonians 1 and 2. Similarly, preterism is too narrow in its interpretation of temporal statements like "the time is near" in Revelation , and again at the end of Revelation in Preterism insists that statements like these don't refer to the whole period of time between the first and second comings of Christ — even though that time lies "just before" the final judgment.
Moreover, preterism doesn't normally acknowledge that this timeline might be modified by historical contingencies. As a result, it tends to ignore distant future fulfillments and to look for fulfillments only in the context of the original audience. By the nature of its interpretation of Revelation, preterism has little to say about the development of God's kingdom since the first century. It doesn't prepare Christians throughout history for the ways most of the prophecies of Revelation might be fulfilled in their own lifetimes.
It doesn't even create an expectation of continued martyrdom and continual opposition. In these and other ways, preterism doesn't give us the full range of application the book of Revelation has to offer. Futurism is the view that the visions in Revelation won't begin to be fulfilled until the final crisis immediately preceding the second coming of Christ. Like preterism, futurism has insights to share. It correctly says that Revelation looks forward, above all, to the great events of Jesus Christ's return. We see this central concern in passages like Revelation Futurism also rightly looks for a future day of final judgment, and the eventual restoration of all creation that is confirmed in other parts of Scripture, such as Romans These interpretations can be applied in many useful ways.
They give us hope in Christ's future return, judgment, and renewal of the creation. And they encourage Christians in all periods of history to watch for this time. But despite these valuable contributions, futurism overlooks the ways the book of Revelation spoke to its original audience. In fact, it tends to downplay applications by generations other than the last generation before Christ returns — even though John mentioned seven ancient churches by name, and addressed each of them specifically. It would be difficult for the seven churches mentioned in chapters 2 and 3 to believe that this book wasn't written with their situation in mind.
In this way, futurism tends to make the book of Revelation appear largely irrelevant to most audiences throughout history. Now that we've examined preterism and futurism, let's look at the third common strategy for application, which we've called historicism. Historicism assumes that the visions of Revelation offer a chronological outline of the course of church history from the first century until the second coming.
Historicism typically says that: Revelation 2—12 relate to events in the first few centuries; 13—17 relate to the Protestant Reformation; and chapters 18—22 relate to the events surrounding the second coming. Historicism offers several valuable insights. It correctly sees that Revelation begins with the situation of the seven churches. It also correctly associates the ending scenes of Revelation with the second coming. And it rightly notices that Revelation moves toward a climax — that a drama develops as we read through the book. Historicism recognizes that the book of Revelation is intended for the church in all ages.
It encourages us to persevere until Jesus returns, and to affirm that at that time he'll renew the heavens and the earth. And it reminds us that God's in control of history, and that his plan can't fail to come to completion. But historicism is problematic in other ways. For one thing, it assumes that all the prophecies in Revelation are strictly chronological.
It fills in the gaps between the early church, the Reformation, and return of Christ by stretching a time line from the first century to the last, and correlating the visions in between with events of world history. But as we saw earlier in this lesson, the structure of the book of Revelation isn't strictly chronological. This can give Christians a false sense of where they are in redemptive history, sometimes inclining them to inappropriate pessimism, and sometimes to inappropriate optimism.
It can even produce a sense that we can't deviate from the timeline perceived in Revelation, as if our own actions are incapable of moving God to pity or anger, and incapable of changing the apparent course of history. A second problem with historicism is its dependence on the Protestant Reformation as a key point in the history of Christ's worldwide church.
Historicism tends to ignore the global Church, often limiting John's prophecies to events within Western Christianity — and sometimes even more narrowly to events within European Christianity. This orientation wrongly downplays the role of the church in other parts of the world. And this can be very discouraging. It can cause believers to think that their actions are insignificant, and take away an important motive for pursuing the continual growth of God's kingdom throughout the entire world.
- The Holy Spirit in Revelation.
- Stop hugging me.
- Dual Beings?
- New Testament.
Having looked at preterism, futurism and historicism, let's turn our attention to the fourth common strategy for application: idealism. Instead of claiming that Revelation depicts events from one time period or another, idealism holds that the scenes in Revelation depict general patterns of spiritual war, not specific events or chronologies. Like the other common strategies, idealism provides some valuable insight. It acknowledges the thematic arrangement of some prophecies in the book of Revelation.
And it highlights the fact that Satan's methods are fundamentally consistent throughout history, making them rather predictable. Idealism also tends to recognize the general New Testament pattern of inaugurated eschatology that we discussed earlier in this series. And it emphasizes the application of Revelation to our modern situation by generalizing beyond the particular circumstances of the first century and the final crisis.
These insights increase our ability to read and to use Revelation as John intended. They help us focus on God's character, and on the nature of his dealings with the world. They prepare us to live for him in all periods of history, and to hope in Christ's eventual return. But idealism also has shortcomings. Perhaps the most obvious is that it fails to identify any of the symbols of Revelation with historical events. At the very least, John's original audience needed his apocalypse to help them uncover the meaning of events that were taking place in their time.