Archive for March, 2006
Today, I struggle with my lack of knowledge or understanding. I find myself wanting to know more – performing searches late into the night reading opinions of those on either side of the discussion. This chapter seems to be one of the most perplexing for me from a timeline perspective. I tried to step completely out of the controversy, but I’m left with nothing else of interest.
What am I talking about? Well, look at the first bowl poured out:
2 So the first angel left the Temple and poured out his bowl over the earth, and horrible, malignant sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue.
Has this already happened? Could this be referring to the supporters of the worldly power and spiritual claims of Rome?
Look further: the fifth bowl is poured “upon the throne of the beast,” and his kingdom is darkened. After the sixth bowl, evil spirits come out of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. After the seventh, the great city, Babylon, falls. These bowls indicate a series of judgments on anti-Christian powers, indicated by the dragon, the beast, the image of the beast, the false prophet, and Babylon. Some claim that these symbolize the world-power which found its embodiment in ancient Rome.
With the seven seals we saw how Old Pagan Rome was judged and brought to an end. With the seven trumpets, the new Roman Empire was judged and its destruction symbolized. With the seven bowls, we see symbols of judgments which weaken and destroy Papal Rome. With the seventh bowl, the Great City, the type of the Apostate Church, falls.
What about the battle at Armageddon? Most scholars will tell you that the word Armageddon is a Greek corruption of the Hebrew Har-Megiddo, “the hill of Megiddo.” The battle in which King Josiah was slain took place upon the hill of Megiddo (see 2 Chronicles 35:20-27).
Hang with me here, everyone! I’m in the middle of a significant paradigm shift in my understanding of the book of Revelation. Or, I’m simply confused. It’s not the end of the world (so to speak!). Either way, I’m having a blast and I’m glad to have you along with me to hold the reigns! I’m compelled to understand better and that’s a good thing.
As it says in James 1: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Lord, I’m asking!
How’s everyone holding in there so far in Revelation? I’ve been getting some very interesting emails and thoughts. It has been a challenge, but just reading through the book has given me a valuable perspective on things – and a strong desire to study more!
In this chapter, I noticed the glassy sea with fire. I remember reading somewhere that fire is always associated with judgement – which makes sense because the seven final judgements are about to be released upon the beast and all his followers.
As for the glassy sea, when I hear that phrase, I think of my first trip to Tampa and my first car ride over the Howard Frankland bridge over Tampa Bay. It was in the Spring and the sky was blue with no clouds, the air was still and the water on one side of the bridge was so smooth it looked like glass. The other side was a bit choppy and I remember how that made me wonder. When I read about the glassy sea around the throne in this chapter, I think of the peace of God and how things are under His control. Glassy sea mixed with fire – Peace and power mixed with judgement.
Even though what we’re reading is difficult and full of mystery, it’s good to know that our God is in control. Meekness was once defined as power under control. I like that definition. Our God is not surprised by what’s going on in the world today. He is not surprised when we screw up over and over. He is not surprised by our enemy. One day even satan’s knee will bow and all those who have been our enemies will be judged.
Oh what a day that will be!
2 And I heard a sound from heaven like the roaring of a great waterfall or the rolling of mighty thunder. It was like the sound of many harpists playing together. 3 This great choir sang a wonderful new song in front of the throne of God and before the four living beings and the twenty-four elders. And no one could learn this song except those 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
I prayed for years for God to show me a brief glimpse of what music is like in heaven. I have two songs that I know God gave to me. These two songs were given to help me through difficult times. They came so easily. I sat down at the piano and within 15 minutes or so – boom – I had a song – and a good one. All my other songs came in phases, or I had to really work at to make they rhyme or make sense at all. Often, I’d have to come back in and redo sections or move things around until I felt better about them. And, there are dozens of songs in various stages of completeness in my folders and notebooks – still unready for disclosure to anyone else but my schnauzer.
I know that much of what we’re reading in Revelation is symbolic. But I’m trying to imagine a sound that is described mighty as a waterfall or thunder, and at the same time like many harpists playing together. I’m going to have to crank up my synthesizers and play around with this combination!
A wonderful new song in front of the throne of God. I’m drinking that in. A song no one could learn but the spiritually undefiled, the blameless 144,000. Who do these 144,000 represent? Where do we fit in? Are we in this choir? Are we part of this number? Is it a symbolic number or an actual 12,000 representatives from each of the 12 tribes.
There are several explanations. Men much smarter than me have debated this for decades. Of course I want to know more about where I fit in and if all these things happened in the past or are yet to come. Of course I want to know what’s to become of me.
But, today I’m content with knowing who I am in Jesus Christ. I’m praying for wisdom and these chapters. Until that comes, I know God has called me and will bless and protect me as I seek Him for answers. I will continue to praise Him with the songs He has given me.
The beast from the sea described here may be a description of the Roman empire (from the preterist view). But it also symbolizes the Antichrist. And the beast from the earth, his false prophet with powers not unlike the holy spirit to do miracles and lull people into following the antichrist. This is kind of the unholy trinity: satan (dragon), sea-beast (anti-christ) and earth-beast (false prophet).
This chapter also describes the mark of the beast, which is the counterfeit to the seal of God we read about in earlier chapters. Some have suggested that the number implies the emperor Nero, who symbolized all the evils of the Roman Empire. The Greek letters of Nero’s name reporesent numbers that total 666.
(I wish my books would get here – this is getting exciting and I want to understand better!)
The battle heats up and war is being waged. But, the outcome has been determined already. If anything, this chapter has encouraged me to not waiver in my faith. These are the end times and the faithful will be rewarded, but suffering is likely. There is no place for indecision. We have to be diligent with our study and understanding, and we’ve got to keep our eyes on Jesus. He has promised no spiritual harm will come to those who believe and follow Him.
1 Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant, and she cried out in the pain of labor as she awaited her delivery. 3 Suddenly, I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail dragged down one-third of the stars, which he threw to the earth. He stood before the woman as she was about to give birth to her child, ready to devour the baby as soon as it was born. 5 She gave birth to a boy who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And the child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to give her care for 1,260 days. 7 Then there was war in heaven. Michael and the angels under his command fought the dragon and his angels. 8 And the dragon lost the battle and was forced out of heaven. 9 This great dragon – the ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world – was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.
Where are the sheep? Where are the three wise men? What about the inn-keeper?
This is the story of what was going on in the un-seen, in heavenly places where the spiritual battle rages on between angels & demons, between God and satan.
How does this all fit in with the timing of the other things we read in Revelation? I used to try to read all this and think it was referring to things yet to come – the armageddon, the end time. Now, I see the reference to Jesus’ birth and satan and his angels being cast out of heaven. That all happened in the past. It is all starting to make sense (and I emphasize “starting”)!
Lord, we ask for wisdom – and you said anyone who lacks wisdom, he only has to ask. Help us all to understand the wisdom found in this book. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear, O Lord.
Can’t wait for tomorrow!
1 Then I was given a measuring stick, and I was told, “Go and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count the number of worshipers. 2 But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations. They will trample the holy city for 42 months.
I missed it the first several times I read this chapter, but this morning it has taken on a more interesting meaning. I notice 1) who measured, 2) what is used to measure and 3) what is being measured.
1) It is not an angel or God who is measuring, but John himself, the only remaining apostle then living. Could this be significant that the apostles (us?) are to do the measuring?
2) The measure was provided by God (or an angel). John “was given a measuring stick” or reed. I see this as meaning if we’re to measure, we’re to use a divine standard, not an earthly one.
3) John was told to measure the temple. It seems to me that the literal temple was destroyed, so I’m thinking this can’t be talking about the actual temple. Rather, it seems like a symbol of the church. John was told to measure the church and the altar where worship was offered. And, John was told to measure those who profess to be Christians. Do they measure up to this divine standard (the Word of God)?
If I understand the outer court, this represents the world. John is not told to measure those who do not profess to be Christians.
If I understand what I’m reading, what we have here is a description of the measurement of the Church, its worship, and of its worshipers. This measurement is done compared to a God-given standard. Now, this seems like a part of Revelation where knowing the time period is important. For example, if you’re a pre-millenial beliver, this measuring is yet to happen. If you’re preterist, this measuring may have already been happening – i.e. the reformation.
I’ve ordered several books to help me better understand what I’m reading. I’m really caught up into all this. I meditate on it for hours (had a restful weekend that allowed me to do that for a change!).
Any other thoughts out there?
Perhaps you heard about the young basketball hero with autism? If not, you’ve got to watch this story:
I don’t know about you, but I am enjoying the descriptions of these amazing creatures in Revelation. I know these are not literal in some cases, but in my mind (admitedly tainted by years of exposure to J.R.R. Tolkein, George Lucas, and the like) these pages come alive. I don’t claim to understand everything I’m reading, but how spectacular are the descriptions! I guess I wouldn’t be quite as impressed if I was worried about whether or not I’m wearing the seal of God.
Anyway, the image of the might angel in this chapter captivated me:
1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, surrounded by a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face shone like the sun, and his feet were like pillars of fire.
3 And he gave a great shout, like the roar of a lion. And when he shouted, the seven thunders answered.
This huge angel is so impressive. I’m so glad to know he’s on my side!
The other thing I notice in this chapter is the anticipation. Of course, I read ahead, but look how it builds in chapter 10:
6 And he swore an oath in the name of the one who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and everything in it, the earth and everything in it, and the sea and everything in it. He said, “God will wait no longer. 7 But when the seventh angel blows his trumpet, God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled. It will happen just as he announced it to his servants the prophets.”
Finally! After all this time – God’s plan is about to be fulfilled. All evil will be expelled and hope and peace are about to be poured out. God’s enemies are filled with fear, but those whom He’s called, who have been waiting for His return – are about to party in the streets.
I SO long for that day.
Lord, come quickly.
I can proudly say I was in band growing up. Yes, I was a “band-bird.” So, when I hear the phrase “first trumpet” I think of fond memories of bus trips, marching band, concerts and great fun. This chapter gives me a completely different frame of reference.
What a frightening description of the “locusts!” It reads like something out of a fantasy novel or Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings.” Their purpose? To hurt people – not to kill them, just make them suffer. These people would suffer to the point they sought to die, but couldn’t.
Who are the people these locusts were sent to torture?
4 They were told not to hurt the grass or plants or trees but to attack all the people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
I’m so glad to be reading through Revelation with you guys. Is it just me or were we taught that people with the mark on their foreheads (mark of the beast) were those who rejected God. Why do I not remember ever being taught that those without the seal of God on their foreheads would be hunted down by these horrific creatures and made to suffer for five months?
But, this is only the beginning – the first terror. There are two more to come. The second is described in this chapter as the releasing of the four angels who are bound at the great Euphrates River. These angels led a massive army on horseback (but not really horses). These angels set out to destroy one third of all the people on the earth.
The most puzzling thing in this chapter is how the people still did not turn from their wicked ways:
20 But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to turn from their evil deeds. They continued to worship demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood – idols that neither see nor hear nor walk! 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their immorality or their thefts.
Once again, I’m unsure of all the symbolism in this chapter, but I continue to pray for wisdom – and a good commentary! One thing I know for sure – we must keep our eyes on the Lord no matter what we believe about the end times, and we must keep our hearts soft and responsive to Him. No matter what happens, He will honor and reward our faith.
Increase our trust in You today, Lord!
I’m trying not to get hung up on certain things I don’t understand. My mind goes back and forth between what I was taught growing up (pre-millenial view) and what I’m starting to understand (partial preterist view). It makes me want to stop everything, go get some books to study and then do this dBrag entry. And, I plan on doing that, but I don’t want to miss my daily entry. I say these things to encourage you to do the same if you’re getting bogged down like me.
What caught my attention in this chapter was the part about the insense mixing with the prayers of the saints. I went back and re-read this many times. What spoke to me was the fact that in perilous times, the thing we need to be doing is praying. God’s people need to pray more. I believe we may limit God with puny or infrequent prayers. Have you ever read “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti?
The other thing that’s interesting to me is the mixing of the insense with the prayers of God’s people:
3 Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great quantity of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people, to be offered on the gold altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of the saints, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.
What is the insense? Our prayers need the incense and intercession of Jesus Christ to make them effective and powerful. Some have even suggested that Jesus Himself was the angel that mixed the prayers and the insense. These prayers, mixed with the incense (“a great quantity”) ascended up to God.
The encouragement for me today in this chapter is to pray more. I need to practice it. I feel like a puny prayer. I sense God urging me to embrace prayer, together with daily reading of God’s word and scripture memorization. These are the things that will help me the most, and those whom God has placed into my life for encouragement.
Lord, increase my trust in You. Help me to understand the power of the effective prayer of a righteous man. Teach me, Lord. Remove whatever it is that keeps me from praying to you at all times.