Revelation 1:13: "like a son of man" means like a human being, right, Sir? Is it significant that that is the way it is put to refer to the Lord Jesus Christ but there is almost never such a description given about angels except to say that they were "men" or "women flying"? It's made me wonder how the prophets of old could tell when they were seeing an angel. Was it their glory? Or did they look significantly different from human beings?
On "like a son of man" regarding our Lord, here is fn #50 from CT 1:
The Greek has "a son of man", a reference here (without the definite article) to the fact that this was definitely a genuine human being John saw (as opposed to an angel or a Theophany [i.e., an apparition of God in human form]). So while it is true that Jesus is indeed the Son of Man (i.e., the archetypical, perfect, genuine human being: Mk.8:31), the purpose of this reference is to assure us that Jesus is human, even in His awesome, glorified state (quite an encouragement for us who look forward to the day of our own resurrection and glorification: Rom.8:30).
On angels, well, they are described at various places in scripture. I would encourage you to read BB 2A: Angelology on this. But your point is well taken that the difference between a manifestation of Christ (Christophany) and an angel was not necessarily easy to distinguish – and He is described as THE Angel of the Lord for that reason. But here He is clearly a human being (as well as God, of course).
Revelation 3:3b NASB
Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.
What could the above have meant for the Church of that era
It meant the termination of their era and the commencement of the next one, faithful Philadelphia.
Revelation 4:4: Does this mean that the Throne was in a center surrounded by the elders? Or is "around" a bad translation? I'm not sure why I keep thinking that they were "before" the Throne rather than "around" it.
Yes. I've tried to represent this spatially (in a very general way) at the link: "The earthy and heavenly tabernacles"
Revelation 4:4: The elders are "sitting", "clothed in white garments" and "wearing golden crowns". That seems to me to suggest that angels do have a corporeality of some sort. They are not flesh and bone as we are as our Lord implied in Luke 9:39 (keeping Hebrews 1:7 in mind, that is). So, whatever the sitting and clothing and wearing that is possible to them, it is of a different sort than is possible to us but this sort of language used about them among the myriad other examples throughout Scripture does confirm your teaching that angels do possess "form" of some kind, does it not?
You are correct. The opposition "material/spiritual" from medieval theology/philosophy misunderstands the issue. Here is a link where I discuss and explain this: "The nature of angels"
Revelation 4:6: Did John's generation know about glass?
Yes, they had glass in the ancient world.
Revelation 4:6: I'm still having trouble visualizing "in the center (NASB fn: middle) of the throne and around the throne". Can you explain it more clearly to me? My understanding is that they are never actually INSIDE the Chariot Throne. So how are they in the center or middle of it?
And in front of the throne [was something] like a sea of glass similar
to crystal. And in the midst of the throne, encircling the throne, were
four living-creatures, laden with eyes in front and in back.
And here's a link to an illustration: "The Cherubs and the Throne"
Revelation 4:7: There was a cross reference to Ezekiel 1 here and it is familiar from the CT series, I think. And I have read that chapter of Ezekiel multiple times. But it just thrills me to imagine that these "living beings" are the highest ranking angels and that these particular ones won their place through faithfulness to God. I can't imagine what must await us for being as zealous for God as that. I'm not sure that I have a question here; I think that I just wish particularly strongly right now that I could attain to something like that as well. That such attainments are available to us is beyond incredible in my mind. I read again in Ezekiel how these four are described as part and parcel of the Throne and the awesome way in which they provide movement to the Throne and I fairly skipped. Is it possible to get so close to God as to be described as part of His Throne? In that sense, at least? Our Lord Jesus says that He sits in His Father's Throne and that all of us who endure in faith until the end will sit with Him there as well. This does not preclude the possibility that the angels share in this position as well, does it? As we will reign as kings with the Father in His Coming Kingdom, so will they, right? Or does Hebrews 2:5 mean that it is only us believers who will share the Father's reign rather than a combination of us and the angels? I envy these Cherubim their already-won positions. I have a few short years - maybe - here on earth, but each day presents battles that make me think (and sometimes fear) that I'll be lucky to even find myself in the Kingdom in the end. Not that I don't have more than enough help from God. In fact, it is precisely because of all the help that I have received over the past several years upon which I meditate sometimes that I do not fail from fear. That was how life felt for a very long time (it felt way too long in my mind) until I started learning the Truth as I have from Ichthys. Today, I still see those enemies but for some reason, the dynamics are different now. I know that I can still lose to them and have but the goal seems possible at least to me. It's not removed from me like, say, the heavens are from the earth.
I'm delighted to see your progress and am encouraged by your motivation to serve the Lord and win the race, my friend. It's a spur to me to try and do better too!
Revelation 4:7: It puzzled me to understand from your teachings that the face of the cherub is the Bullock face. If I understand and remember correctly, that means that a cherub is understood to look like a Bullock. The fact that the living beings had calves' hooves seems to me to prove it too. Then again, clearly, the cherubim at least look very different from the other angels who seem to always invariably look like human beings. Is there some way you could make this a little clearer to me, sir?
The best I can do beyond what you have read about this at Ichthys (see the link: "Cherubs") is to say that their appearance may be likened to a military dress uniform of a high ranking general or admiral bedecked with all manner of medals and other regalia – the person would look quite different in a bathing suit, e.g.
Revelation 4:11: This seems to me to sum up the whole question of free will. God made everything including all of us with our free wills of His Own Decree. Nothing would exist if He didn't want it to. Therefore, everything is rightfully His including ourselves and our free wills. If this is the case - as I believe firmly that it is - it is robbery to deny Him ourselves and our free wills. This is essentially what the 24 angelic elders are proclaiming here, is it not, sir?
I agree with everything except the robbery part (that's not how I would put it anyway).
Revelation 5:5: There is a point being made here in calling our Lord the Root of David rather than his Seed or Branch, isn't there? This is about His Divinity, is it not, sir? Is "Lion that is from the tribe of Judah" about His humanity exclusively or is there a divine component to that title? In other words, do these two titles go together to each show one or the other of our Lord's natures or do they each describe a mix of these natures?
His royalty comes out in "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah"; His messianic lineage in the title "The Root of David".
Revelation 5:6: Are the seven horns like the seven eyes representative of the Holy Spirit?
From CT 2B:
Moreover, the seven horns and seven eyes represented on the Lamb are potent symbols of His coming reign, with the horns signifying the completeness of the power that is now His for rulership (cf. Deut.33:17; Ps.18:2; 112:9; Zech.1:18), and with the seven eyes signifying the completeness of His empowerment by the Holy Spirit for rulership (cf. Is.11:1-3; 42:1-4; Zech.4:1-10; Jn.3:34).
Revelation 5:8-14: It seems to me that verses eight to fourteen is a strong argument for the Deity of Christ. Would you agree, sir?
Agreed! There are so many of these in scripture, it seems to me that those who do not accept Christ's deity cannot be serious about taking the Bible as the Word of God.
Revelation 5:8-13: Every created thing everywhere? That must have been a sight. Regardless what each free will may be doing, everything gives this worship?
This is a text and translation problem. My rendering:
(12) [and they were] saying in a loud voice, “The Lamb who has been slain is worthy to take the power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (13) and every created thing in heaven and on the earth and in the sea and everything in them.” Then I heard them saying, “To the One who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb [be] the blessing and the honor and the glory and the power for ever and ever!” (14) And the four living creatures were saying, “Amen!”. And the [twenty-four] elders fell [down] and worshiped.
Revelation 6:3: None of these seals refers to God's judgments. Is there a reason for that? They appear to be exclusively focused on the earth, what "the other side" is doing. The sixth seal which announces the Second Advent and the impending final judgments of God also focuses on the actions or rather reactions of men rather than on the source of the awesome events that were described. Why is this the case?
I'm not sure I understand the premise (the sixth seal seems to be a notable exception). The direct judgments of God during the Tribulation are the trumpets and the bowls, and these are covered later INSIDE the book; the seals are trends so that is different from specific judgments also and may explain any perceived difference.
Revelation 6:6: Considering where this voice came from, should we assume that it was the Lamb speaking?
The voice is said to originate "in the middle of the four living creatures"; if the Lamb were meant, I would think He would have been named as the originator.
Revelation 6:8: All these trends are within the first 3 + 1/2 years, aren't they? Is it correct to read that the activities of the Antichrist will cost the lives of 25% of the world's population? Or is there a better way to read it?
Correct. From CT 2B:
The phrase in our context "a fourth part of the earth" is likewise also often misconstrued. For this is not a reference to a fourth part of the world's population, but refers instead, just as it says, to a "fourth part of the earth" (exactly as in the trumpet judgments where the areas affected are also very precisely spelled out: e.g., Rev.8:7 "a third of the earth"; Rev.8:8 "a third of the sea"; Rev.8:9 "a third of the ships"; Rev.9:15 "a third of mankind"). The qualifying phrase here, "of the earth", tells us that the initial sphere of these four trends launched by antichrist's activities will be confined to a quarter of the world in terms of geographical limits. That is to say, the initial trends toward wars of conquest, social unrest, economic meltdown, and accelerated mortality will be concentrated in antichrist's own kingdom (which comprises a fourth of the world in biblical terms). In common scriptural designation, the earth is indeed divided into four quadrants, north, south, east, and west, (often represented by the four winds which in turn stand for these four directions: Jer.49:36; Ezek.37:9; Dan.7:2; Matt.24:31). We may compare the four angels standing at the "four corners of the world" in Revelation 7:1, the devil's deception at the end of time of all the nations "in the four corners of the earth" in Revelation 20:8, God's regathering of Israel in Isaiah 11:12 "from the four corners of the earth", and the four chariots of divine visitation of Zechariah 6:7 who go forth “throughout the [entire] earth” (i.e., one to a quadrant, north, south, east and west). Moreover, in biblical geography, Israel is at the world's center, so that these four quadrants are to be identified relative to her own central location. As the home of God's chosen people, "whence is the Christ according to the flesh", and as the geographical focus of world events from the divine point of view, it should not be at all surprising to believers that Israel should be so described (Rom.9:5).
Revelation 7:9-14: This is a prophecy about the end of the tribulation, is it not, Sir? These people here are the believers who did not fail in their faith throughout the Great Tribulation. That is, the entire complement of believers who held on to their faith whether they were martyred or persecuted only until the end of the Tribulation?
That is the correct identification of the people in question and the palm branches are symbols of the coming second advent and millennial kingdom; the worship takes place during the Tribulation in heaven.
Revelation 7:9-15: I am not very certain what to make of this statement. When our Lord says that we will share His Father's Throne with Him, is this equivalent to serving the Father in His Temple? This doesn't seem different from the destiny or experience of the angels either. What am I missing here, Sir?
I'm not sure I understand the question based on the text. Here is my translation of verse fifteen:
For this reason they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple. And the One who sits upon the throne will pitch His tabernacle over them.
This refers to the fact that we will be with the Father and the Son forever in the New Jerusalem. Cf.:
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Revelation 21:3 KJV
Revelation 9:1: The "star from heaven which fell to the earth" is a fallen angel, isn't it?
Yes. My translation at the link:
And I saw a star (i.e., an angel), which had descended from heaven to the earth.
Revelation 9:16: Was this number familiar to John's generation or is it an interpretation of a more familiar number or description?
This is the literal number. "Myriad" is actually a Greek number (10K) so using that designation makes sense and is more economical than spelling things out otherwise.
Revelation 10:11: Who are "they" here?
Good question. Some mss. have "he" here; but the best ms., Sinaiticus, has "they". It would seem to be the collection of angels in context.
Revelation 11:2: NASB has in the footnote "throw out". Does that make sense? Also, does leaving out the outer court have anything to do with the idol that Antichrist will set up? When it says that "the nations will tread the Holy City underfoot for forty two months", is this also in connection with the coming of people from all over the world to worship the idol?
(1) And a reed was given to me like unto a measuring rod, [with the One who gave it to me] saying, "Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and [count] the worshipers within it[s precincts]. (2) But exclude this inner court and do not measure it. For it has been handed over to the gentiles, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months" (i.e., during the Great Tribulation which will begin after the events of chapter eleven).
Note the emphasized part. So your instincts are good! There is a textual issue here and most of the versions go the wrong way. Yes, you are correct that this is the "trampling" which will continue until Messiah returns.
Revelation 10:13: used to puzzle me. I think it is the only place besides the one where Babylon was judged (which is also a little puzzling) where people in the world at the time were said to give glory to God for a judgment. But it makes sense now because I've learned that the city where this happened was Jerusalem. Even apostate Jews would know to give glory to God for such an event even if they were unwilling to submit to Christ, right, sir?
It never bothered me before, but I think you are right about this!
Revelation 12:13: The water that the dragon poured out of his mouth is really a symbol for the armies of the Antichrist that would be or (would have been) pursuing the fleeing Jewish believers, isn't it?
Yes indeed. See the link: "The Dragon's Pursuit"
Revelation 12:17 is really the beginning of the Great Persecution, isn't it, sir?
Yes indeed. See the link: "The Great Persecution"
Revelation 13:2: This beast combines the appearance of the first three beasts in Daniel 7 and interestingly in that same Daniel 7, it is said to be different from them all.
Correct (covered at the link: "The Biblical Symbolism of the Beast")
Revelation 14:14-16 NKJV
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.
This is referring to the Great Martyrdom, is it not?
Yes indeed. See the links: "the Great Persecution" and "the preview of the Great Persecution"
Revelation 14:17-20: This is about the Judgments that follow the Great Persecution?
This is the winepress of Armageddon (i.e., the battle of Armageddon where our Lord destroys the armies of antichrist) being referred to here.
Revelation 14:20 speaks of Armageddon and the city here is the earthly city of Jerusalem?
Yes, this is Jerusalem (the distance printed in most versions is incorrect, however).
Revelation 15:1: Why is this a "sign"? Is it not literal? Does it have to do with the multitude on the sea of glass mixed with fire? Or something else?
Correct. The way the Great Persecution is described is figurative, and the judgments carried out by the angels is directly connected thereto. See the link: "the Vindication of the Martyrs".
Revelation 15:3: It seems significant to me that this song is one identified with Moses who is also noted as a bondservant of God - a term that seems to me to be important for some reason - and with our Lord Himself. The connection brings to mind Moses' prophecy that God would send a prophet like himself and that was our Lord. It seems interesting to me, therefore, that the two of them are connected here in an event of the Tribulation. Could this be further proof that Moses is one of the two witnesses?
Indeed. A good point.
Revelation 15:6: For "linen", the footnote says that one early manuscript reads "stone". That is very strange. It seems obvious to me that the correct reading should be linen but what is it really, Sir?
Yes, it is linen. The two words are very close in Greek, so it's easy to see how a sleepy scribe who wasn't paying close enough attention might have written the more common word: "lithon" vs. "linon" (where "th" is a theta and "n" is a nu).
Revelation 16:19: puts me in mind of Zechariah 14:4. That is only one split though, right? How does the third portion come about? And what does it mean that the cities of the nations fell? Could that refer to the baptism of Fire or, as the context seems to me to suggest, to a literal fall as a result of the Great worldwide earthquake?
There are many earthquakes during the Tribulation; these are listed and differentiated at the link: "Earthquakes". The one you ask about occurs in Jerusalem proper, and serves to make the city more defensible against antichrist's return. The splitting of the Mt. of Olives occurs at the second advent when Christ comes to earth at that spot.
Revelation 18:7: Zephaniah 2:15 is in the cross references for the statement here. In its context, Nineveh was the city in view. What was the historical relationship between Babylon and Nineveh?
Assyria and the Assyrian king are also archetypes of the beast (so Nineveh is also of Babylon). See the link: "The King of Assyria".
Revelation 19:1-3. First, who is this multitude? Is this that part of the Church that is in Heaven? If I am right in thinking that it is, is it significant that just as the four living creatures always seemed to be initiating worship of God in heaven, it is a mark of the superiority of saved mankind that it is the Church who initiates that worship now?
These are all the not yet resurrected members of the Church along with the holy angels as well; all the people of God in heaven prior to the second advent.
Revelation 20:8-9: Is this really the same as Ezekiel 38? The latter is so similar to Armageddon, especially in the way that the Lord attacks the invaders.
No, Ezekiel 38-39 is describing Armageddon; this is a common misunderstanding as there are indeed similarities. As described in CT 6: "Both are instigated by the devil's deceit, both seek to unseat God, and both will draw unprecedentedly large numbers of troops from around the world in order to do battle with Jesus Christ at Jerusalem. For these reasons, John's sanctified use of this well-known appellation, "Gog and Magog", makes perfect sense as a generic phrase to indicate the involvement of the totality of the gentile world in this assault".
Revelation 21:11: What does it mean that the New Jerusalem has the Glory of God and why does the city have the same appearance as the Father (Rev 4:3)?
God is light. In the world as it is presently configured, light had to be re-supplied to the darkened universe and collected into light bearing bodies. But we see from this verse that this was not always the case – darkness is a result of judgment. So, naturally, when there is no evil or sin of any kind, the glory of God who is light illuminates everything. As to the appearance of the Father and the city, they are not exactly the same. The word "jasper" is used for both, but in the case of the city, the jasper is translucent; in the case of the Father, it is not, and the word "sardius" is added, as well as having the "rainbow" glory surrounding Him. Jasper is a stone of many potential colors, so we can imagine that John is given to approximate the appearance of each and uses this word in the Spirit to give an idea of the marvelous appearances he saw. In both cases, he says "like", and that is different from the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem where the stones actually "are" what they are said to be. So, for example, the Gad gate's foundation actually "is" jasper, not merely approximating it in appearance (Rev.21:19). For more on this see the link: "the Throne of God".
Revelation 21:24-26: What does this talk of nations and kings of the earth imply? Should we assume that Millennial believers will be organized into the nations while the Church is the New Jerusalem? Would that mean that all the nations will be incorporated into Eternal Israel of which the Church is the capital, the New Jerusalem? Then who are the kings of the earth? What are their dominions? Do they refer to the leaders of these nations or to all believers? How do the angels enter this picture?
The most we can say is that the eternal family of God is composed of the Church, the Friends of the Bride (these are the ones whom the kings lead in your context), and the Elect Angels, with the human element combined equaling in number the angelic one. We can only speculate about the organization of the angels (I have called their groupings "clans"; see the link) but we do know that there are various ranks and that these have been meritoriously awarded. Likewise, we know that our eternal status in the Church will have to do with reward for our efforts in this life and that we are organized into "tribes" as the "Israel of God". The same sort of thing, therefore, must be true for the Friends of the Bride (and we do indeed see that reflected in the judgment of the sheep in Matt.25:34-40). So from this passage it does seem that these other believers will be organized into "nations".
I'm emailing you a lot and I hope you don't mind. I just seem to have loads I want to say to you and with me being the only believer in my family I can't really talk to them because obviously they just don't get it.
I've been thinking about the alter of incense in the tabernacle. I read your teaching on the aroma:
The incense rising from the golden alter is a picture of Christ in resurrection ascending to heaven. Having provided through His sacrifice a fragrant aroma of salvation most acceptable to the Father.
I was thinking then about the incense representing the prayers of God's people ascending to the golden alter in heaven before the throne of God which are a sweet smell to Him - Revelation 8:3,4 and Psalm 141:2. How the burning of the incense had to be continual just as we should pray without ceasing and pray and not lose heart. But remembering that those prayers are only before the throne and acceptable and pleasing to God because of the perfect sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. It is Jesus' righteousness that is a fragrant aroma to the Father and we are the righteousness of God in Him 2 Corinthians 5:21. Those prayers are heard by the Father because they are prayed in the name of Jesus and by lives and hearts that are right with the Lord and obedient to Him (a heart thing!). Does this sound right to you Bob?
It's such a lovely thought in my mind that our prayers ascend to the throne in heaven like incense and that it really is a privilege to pray and know the Lord hears those prayers. It spurs me on to never allow anything to come between me and the Lord. To be obedient to Him, to confess my sin, to keep growing etc. I'm getting a stronger sense of His holiness and it makes me feel so humble before Him.
Thank you for your patience Bob.
Your friend in Jesus
Do feel free to write me any time, my friend.
This is a wonderful picture, the analogy coming through loud and clear in Psalm 141:2.
However, the picture in Revelation is more complex and complicated further by some textual issues and bad translations. Here is how I render that passage:
(1) And when He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (2) And I saw the seven angels who stood before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. (3) And another angel with a golden censer came and stood by the altar, and much incense was given to him so that he might offer it for the prayers of the saints on the golden altar in front of the throne. (4) And smoke from the incense went up from the hand of the angel before God for the prayers of the saints. (5) Then the angel took the incense holder and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it to the earth. And there occurred thunderous voices and flashes of lightning and an earthquake (i.e., these are the signs that accompany the beginning of the Tribulation).
This is actually confirming what you have said. The potential problem for many
is that the passage in Revelation when wrongly construed seems to
equate prayers and incense; but as you point out in the parallel, the incense
actually only represents / empowers the prayers . . . because it is
symbolic of the validity and power of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. That is a
very important point to point out indeed, and one I have said something about in
the context of the verse where it is treated in
(see the link).
I'm very heartened by your continuing spiritual progress, my friend!
In Jesus our dear Savior,
I personally find the metaphor of Christ as the Messianic Lion of Judah to be quite effective. Humans have long perceived lions as majestic, kingly, valorous, and courageous -- and of course terrifying in power and might. Jesus is the strong protector of Israel (king, savior, and protector), just like a lion.
Similarly, I understand the symbolism of the other two faces of the cherubim, as you outline them in SR5: bulls are the greatest sacrificial animal in the law, and Jesus is of course the god-man, fully human in every respect.
However, I'm having problems seeing how eagle symbolism in general relates to Christ as millennial ruler. In particular, you make the statement "the eagle is an appropriate symbol for Christ's majestic and awe-inspiring double victory, first at the cross (with its accompanying resurrection, ascension and session at the Father's right hand), and ultimately at the Second Advent (Matt.24:28; Lk.17:37; compare the picture of the glorified Christ at Rev.1:12-16)."
I have no idea what the three verses you cite are supposed to indicate. The two gospel verses have always puzzled me, especially since they are explanatory in force but don't seem to relate to the previous train of thought in a way that makes sense to me. Could you explain these verses, and how they relate to what you say in the SR5 section?
I'm also interested in the biblical symbolism of eagles more generally. Lions always had the positive association with the tribe of Judah (since Jacob's blessing, at any rate), and there are some other verses in which attributes of lions are definitively positive (e.g., 2 Samuel 17:10). Of course, there are plenty of verses in which they are negative as well (1 Peter 5:8 comes to mind).
As for eagles, we have the verses relating to predatory swiftness that you cite in SR5, Isaiah 40:31, and some verses that talk about God protecting us under his wings like an eagle, but, at least based on my cursory searching, we have less to go on for exactly what attributes of eagles the eagle-face of the cherubim ought to call to mind. Now that I think about it, the lion and eagle faces would be difficult to disentangle if we did not have the strong lion associations with Judah (both are generally taken to be symbols of power, might, majesty, etc.), and, moreover, exactly what the lion would represent absent this guidance would also be difficult.
I guess what I'm trying to get is that while the lion symbolism is made clear by lion associations with Judah, and the bull and man faces are (relatively) obvious due to other considerations, I see no easy way to say definitively what we ought to make of the eagle associations.
I've studied animal symbolism as it relates to other mythological systems and cultures (eagles and Zeus, e.g., and of course the Roman legions after Marius), but this doesn't seem helpful in disentangling the biblical usage, and the symbolism here in particular, where we are supposed to understand eagle characteristics with respect to Christ.
I could speculate about things like eagles being closer to the sky = more closely associated with the divine, eagles being in constant flight with excellent eyesight = associations with vigilance, etc. -- but I really don't know if such things are valid to pull in here. Any light you could shed would be appreciated.
Yours in Christ,
On the eagle, first, it is an impressive and awe-inspiring bird; not for
no reason do so many nation-states claim it as their symbol for just
that reason; Christ's second advent victory and the millennial reign it
brings in is thus duly symbolized by the bird of conquest (cf. Hos.8:1 –
a negative symbol for the conquered but not for the
conquerors). Second, the passages quoted from the gospels are
speaking of our resurrection – at the second advent whence the
Millennium begins. We are gathered together to Him, being symbolized as
eagles in counterpoint to the eagle-dispensation where we shall share in
Christ's Kingdom won by His blood (1st advent) and His sword (second
advent). And lastly if the rationale given for
the cherubim generally is accepted (see the link), we have
confirmation by process of elimination that the Millennium is meant.
Hope you finished off your semester nicely and now can have a bit of R & R before the spring.
Wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas time.
In Jesus our dear Savior,
Let me try to be a bit more specific.
1) So, aside from the majesty, awe, and might that eagles evoke (in a similar vein to lions), there is the specific idea of eagles representing conquest?
2) The word in Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37 is ἀετοὶ. I have seen most people translate this as "vultures" rather than "eagles." For example, Thayer:
In Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37 (as in Job 39:30; Proverbs 30:17) it is better, since eagles are said seldom or never to go in quest of carrion, to understand with many interpreters either the vultur percnopterus, which resembles an eagle (Pliny, h. n. 10, 3 "quarti generis — viz. aquilarum — est percnopterus"), or the vultur barbatus. Cf. Winers RWB under the word Adler; [Tristram, National History of the Bible, p. 172ff]. The meaning of the proverb [cf. examples in Wetstein on Matthew, the passage cited] quoted in both passages is, 'where there are sinners (cf. πτωμα), there judgments from heaven will not be wanting'.
Putting aside the passages' interpretation for a moment, the argument seems to
go that eagles qua eagles are predatory rather than scavengers. To the ancient
mind the distinction may not have been important ("big carnivorous birds with
talons = ἀετοὶ"), but it would seem to have a bearing on linking these passages
with Revelation 4:7. If carrion birds are meant in these gospel passages, then
the question of whether these birds are the same in symbolic force as eagles qua
eagles comes into play. Unless we are arguing for a vulture-face of the
cherubim, there seem to be interpretive problems linking these passages. You
seem to not find the distinction meaningful:
Your footnote seems to suggest that the ancients these birds were essentially the same (the same word being used in the Greek, of course), so that symbolism from one freely applies to the other. Is this correct? Are to take other references to ἀετοὶ in passages other than these two passages to "real" eagles?
3) I still don't understand these gospel verses fully:
What is the πτωμα / ptoma of these verses? The corpse of God's enemies at the second advent when believers will be gathered together as we watch Christ destroy the forces of evil?
Who are the ἀετοὶ? Believers?
The verses are presented with some sort of gnomic sense that seems to be quite explicitly tied with carrion birds (carrion birds will be present where there is carrion). How does this affect the verses meaning?
How does this relate to Christ's coming being unmistakable like lightning lighting up the sky (the Matthew verse)? The Luke verse seems to be explicitly talking about the location of the second advent, right?
4) I can accept the process of elimination argument: the question of using the cherubim faces in a dispensational sense is one that I want more time to think about before bringing up. I haven't read through all of SR5 recently (I think I've done it before, just not for a while) to be able to say with certainty if the whole makes clearer the parts. The seven millennial days interpretation seems obvious to me from scripture, but I do recall being somewhat reluctant about finding dispensational meaning in 1-6: while not totally forced, it just seemed unnecessary to find special significance in an ascending numerical order without any direct scriptural indication that this is the case. You can address this now if you want, but I think it would be better for me to go through and read the whole section again, and then write down specific concerns then.
More what I was getting at with my questions was looking at it from the point of view of "if the eagle is tied to the millennial reign of Christ by process of elimination, what are we supported to get from the eagle imagery in this context?" I think viewing eagles as a symbol of conquest (which lions are not in scripture) mostly answers this question, as symbolically representing Christ's swift, conquering return at the second advent -- if I'm reading you right. It would make sense.
The semester is done -- and I think I've done well. This was hopefully the last "heavy" semester before I graduate in a years time. I'm hoping to catch up in Greek some next semester (and start Hebrew again on my own: I haven't kept up with it much since I stopped taking it in an official capacity). Thanks for your prayers!
Yours in Christ,
1) Hosea is referring to the conquest of the northern kingdom by Assyria (cf. Deut.28:49; Jer.48:40; 49:22; Ezek.17:3; 17:7):
Set the trumpet to your mouth!
He shall come like an eagle against the house of the LORD,
Because they have transgressed My covenant
And rebelled against My law.
Hosea 8:1 NKJV
2) Eagles and vultures are very different in our way of thinking
about things. We tend to call lizards, lizards – even though there are many
species and they greatly differ from one another, more so than vultures and
eagles in my opinion. So what they did on this failure to distinguish in the
ancient world is not so different what we do in the modern world. When I say
"lizard", I believe I have an idea of what the mental picture this will evoke in
the mind of my audience will be. They will think of something small and harmless
(not, for example, a Gila monster – though they know of the existence of such).
Similarly, when the word aetos is used in the NT or nesher in the
OT, it is the majestic, swift, awesome "eagle" that first comes to mind (even
though anyone in either culture would be aware of another sort). Since in the NT
generally and, more to the point, in the description of the cherubs, we
certainly do not have to do with anything vulgar or repulsive, the standard
"eagle" meaning is correct, and that is how the word aetos should thus be
3) The "body" (ptoma) is Christ, and we will flock around Him in resurrection as eagles gather around the prey (eagles do this too, after all; in Alaska, if you leave a salmon on the rock next to you, you may get an unexpected – swift and fearsome – visitor who'll snatch it nearly out of your lap). The comparison was particularly pointed, given by our Lord just before His death on the cross: without a body given up in death, there is no resurrection wherein we can gather to our resurrected Lord having been resurrect ourselves.
"Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together."
Matthew 24:26-28 NKJV
The context is our Lord's description of the Tribulation; we are warned not to
believe that He has come because someone claims it. When He does come, it will
be unmistakable, like lightning that cannot be ignored. And the sure sign will
be when we are gathered together with Him in the sky, like eagles circling the
prey. So this is speaking of the resurrection (and v.31 comes back to the
resurrection with more detail and without this analogy).
4) On process of elimination, of course one first has to accept that the faces are symbolic, and further that this symbolism glorifies Christ. If they do not have the symbolism advanced, what other symbolism might be suggested? Anything else I've every heard is flawed on the face of it. When you say that you are/were "being somewhat reluctant about finding dispensational meaning in 1-6", I'm not exactly sure what you mean. As you know, I reject hyper-dispensationalism. God does, however, dispense His truth differently in different time periods, and pre-Israel, Israel, our era, and the 1,000 years of the Millennium are all very clearly in the Bible, amounting to seven thousand years all told (if we believe the chronology scripture gives). If you refine the question, I'll try to help.
Good news on being done, and congrats on being another step closer to the finish line, my friend!
I'll definitely be keeping your preparation, Greek and Hebrew, and family too in my prayers.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas with your family – and make sure to get a bit of rest.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thanks for sticking with me on this. I think most things make sense now, but I just want to go over a couple more observations. Sorry if this whole thing seems rather ponderous and unimportant: I just want to make sure I won't need to be hand-wavy if I ever explain it to someone else. (And I like to be precise).
1) Meaning can encapsulate both kinds of birds
Your lizard analogy was very helpful. I ran into a blog post about nesher vs. ayit that highlighted arguments for various identifications, eventually stating something to the effect that both these Hebrew words probably encapsulated both eagles and vultures. (And based on our discussion above, the same would hold for the Greek aetos). I also came across a rather opinionated post and another page that argue that references to nesher were griffin vultures not eagles. They argue this based on several factors:
a) Micah 1:16 mentions baldness, which is characteristic of vultures not eagles.
b) As in the gospel passages we have been discussing, nesher are described as eating carrion (Proverbs 30:17; Job 39:27-30).
c) They say that vultures gather in numbers but eagles do not: "They [griffon vultures] gather in very obvious numbers. Eagles do not gather like this, but vultures do, and among the vultures, the Griffons then feed in a social manner, not disturbing each other. Jesus clearly had the vulture, not the eagle in mind."
d) They say that vultures were esteemed by certain ancient civilizations: "Although vultures are not highly esteemed nowadays (in the west) they had high prestige in the ancient world. It was a symbol of a deity among both the Egyptians and Assyrians, often linked to war."
As to my thought on these points:
a) If nesher can encapsulate both species, there is no reason why it couldn't mean eagle most of the time and vulture in this context.
b) If eagles sometimes consume carrion as well, this is somewhat of a red herring. I haven't found many rigorous scientific studies on the subject, but I've found plenty of websites that say that eagles are opportunistic and will eat carrion when available (especially in the winter when food is more scarce).
c) Further, at least some species (such as the bald eagle of North America) scavenge carrion in groups. It would be a matter if one of the historical species extant in Israel did this, which seems plausible enough.
d) So were eagles, I'd assume.
So at any rate, I don't think it's particularly clear cut, at least not in favor of translating as vulture.
2) How then do when we know which is which?
In your opinion, are most references in scripture (nesher and aetos) made with eagles in mind, even if vultures can be technically described by the same word (as "lizard" = "Gila monster" in your analogy)? Micah 1:16 has to be vultures explicitly. Could both be in mind in other passages, or should we make a hard argument for eagles only?
3) Is a distastefulness for vultures culturally-determined?
My searching did not turn up much on ANE opinions of vultures. In the modern west, they are usually portrayed negatively, associated with death and rotting flesh. But it would be wrong for us to back-project our distaste for them if it was not present in the context in which the passages were written. Do you know anything about this?
No problem, my friend. You are a very thorough person, and that is a good thing.
1) I agree with your conclusions.
2) I'm no ornithologist. I do know that there are many species of eagles, vultures, hawks, similar birds of prey, some of which could look and be described as "bald" (beyond the North American bald eagle). Also, people make two incorrect assumptions in constructing these types of arguments: a) that the distribution of species today is identical to that of the ancient world; that is patently false. Lions are not to be found anywhere near Jerusalem today, but were certainly present in antiquity; and we know of some species which no longer exist (what we don't know is precise information about all species that have now become extinct); b) that the way people in antiquity described and thought about "species" was similar to today; for one thing, we use terminology much more flexibly than we would like to admit; why is a bald eagle not called a vulture? I'm no biologist, but it strikes me that distinguishing between eagles, vultures, hawks, and similar birds of prey is not so precise, absent a genetic map, as the language suggests it might be. To go back to the lizard example, "we" have an idea of generic lizard characteristics, and in poetry we might use any of these characteristics to describe a lizard – even if they might not fit with every lizard. So I wouldn't be dogmatic about Micah 1:16 having to refer to vultures. These birds have a common core of characteristic features that a poet/prophet could call upon and be accepted by those listening without being subject to scientific quibbles.
3) I don't know of any passages in literature to help here, but the point that there does not seem to be any noticeable bias against vultures in antiquity and or for eagles is obvious from the very fact that the words and others referring to birds of prey are largely interchangeable in Greek and Hebrew. Bottom line: eagle / vulture / hawk etc., we have only a general idea what the Greek and Hebrew words meant (and our own modern distinctions are also not so precise if we look below the surface). But since we do think poorly of vultures today, and since the Bible is NOT using the word aetos in a disparaging manner, the translation "vulture" is, given all of the above, inappropriate.
Wishing you a wonderful time with your family, my friend!
In Jesus our dear Savior,
Good morning, my question is did John write seven individual letters to the churches or one which was passed from church to church and recouped during this??
Thanks as always and you have a blessed day!!!
The seven letters are exactly as written in the book of Revelation. John
is taking dictation from the Lord who uses these seven as exemplars of
the seven eras of the Church Age to follow. What we have is just what
John was given (in the Greek, of course).
In Jesus our dear Savior,
I do understand John wrote as directed by God but was it seven individual letters? I have heard it was just one long letter and then passed from church to church??
What John was directed to write is precisely what we are blessed to
have: the complete book of Revelation. The "letters" to the seven
churches are parts of the single book of Revelation. That was always the
Spirit's intent. They were never separated out and sent out separately.
The entire book of Revelation was circulated as a book (as we have it
now, only in Greek) to the churches of that time, not just the seven,
but throughout the Christian world.
In Jesus our dear Savior,
If the month of Nisan [Exodus 13:4] which usually falls in March–April on the Gregorian calendar is the beginning of the year, how does that affect the 33 A.D. to 2033 B.C. timeline? V/r
"half hour" in Revelation 8:1 just before the Tribulation begins
represents a pause of grace, and shifts the beginning of the Tribulation
(and thus the timing of the second advent) to the fall from the spring.
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Sir, thanx for your quick response! Trusting God to preserve you and
family. I'm actually not just growing in eschatology but generally (just
too slow!). It's just that I tend to be more attentive in that area.
Virtually the whole bible is involved in eschatology. To understand it I
think one must have a working knowledge of the whole bible.
I understand Dan 11v33a, I just thought "is that a ministry in and of itself alone"? If I die before then, is my life completely wasted? From the little I've read, 99% is in harmony with my understanding of the scriptures. A lot of scriptures are clearer and I pay more attention to details because of ichthys. In reality some of the questions I have are getting answered as I chug along. Can you suggest a plan to go through your site carefully probably in 6 months? As I read it's like I just want to gobble up everything at once! I had finished my book, but coming across your site clarified/changed a few things and I want to do some more study before wrapping it up. There are few things I have read on ichthys that I have changed my thinking to easily but fewer others have "destroyed my theology" so to speak which I would like to have light on through prayer. (Your explanations are very simple for me to follow) I have seen how you answer your questions and I've seen how patient and detailed you are, so I make bold to ask: Could you please critique this synopsis by Gundry below in relation to what you have in CT series?
Of course one of the ideas here is that the last trump of 1Cor 11v52 is the 7th trumpet of Revelation which you don't agree with, but still don't understand why. Maybe I'll get the answer as I continue to read and assimilate. Please sir remember my prayer point about pride.
Thank you sir for your time.
There are lots of ways to tackle the material at Ichthys. I usually
recommend starting with the Peter series, then moving on to the other
three major series, all the while trying to keep up with the weekly
email postings and work backwards to catch up on the ones already
posted. There are also important materials on the
Topics" page by myself (the Gospels, e.g.) and others. Naturally,
this will depend greatly on the time and energy available to do so
(here's a link on this in the FAQs:
Sequence: Which of these studies should I read first?").
On your synopsis, it is excellent! You seem to me to have the gift of teaching. As we've discussed, I'm convinced that there will be a great need for prepared teachers once the Tribulation begins. Actually, of course, the NEED is already present; what's lacking is the demand. But I'm sure that the troubles to come will provoke a groundswell of desire for learning the truth once circumstances force the lukewarm to get red hot or cool off to ice cold. Here is a link that explains the difference between the seventh trumpet and the on mentioned both in 1Cor.15 and 1Thes.4: "Trumpets". Please have a look and do feel free to get back to me on this if you still have questions.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Dear Sir, hope you are doing ok. Thanx again for your quick response!
(Do you sleep?)
I will tackle the task ahead with your advice. I pray the Lord will help me.
I have gone over "Trumpets" but still don't have light on it. Even though the first six trumpets are warnings, why can't the 7th trumpet be all of:
-A call for assembly as He gathers (by His Angels) His elect- Matt 24v31;
-The last trumpet, when the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed- 1Cor 15v52
-The trumpet call of God (blown by an Angel)- 1Thess 4v16;
-The trumpet that announces that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.- Rev 11v15.
In Rev 11v17, as a result of v15 -His reign is here pictured as having begun, that is the consummation has actually come.
Thank you sir.
Sir is there any personal prayer you would like me to pray about. Even if in general terms so as not to reveal personal stuff (if you are inclined like that)-And you don't yet know me well too. I would like to sow to you and your ministry in that fashion since you don't take money (not as if the money is there!!)
May the Lord perfect what concerns you and yours.
Good to hear back from you, my friend.
The seventh trumpet begins the Great Tribulation which lasts three and a half year. The "final trumpet" which summons believers to resurrection occurs at the end of the Tribulation, following those three and a half years. So they can't be the same trumpet call. As explained in the link, trumpets in the ancient world were used for signaling and there were different trumpet calls for different purposes. As Paul says at 1st Corinthians 14:8, "if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?" (NKJV). In other words, just as with bugle calls in the (relatively) modern era, there are different "calls" which require different actions. The seven trumpets of Revelation are commands to the angels in charge of them to unleash a series of warning judgments, warning of the punishment on unbelievers for following the devil instead of the Lord who is shortly to return. But the "last trump" has a different purpose, namely, to "sound assembly" for the Church of Jesus Christ, calling us all to resurrection and a great muster in the sky above the earth to witness our Lord's Armageddon victory.
One other small thing. On your graphic, therefore, I should have noted and clarified that the staggering of the Trumpets and the Bowls by Gundry is therefore wrong.
Hope this solves it for you – do feel free to write back.
I'm always happy for prayer! Thanks for remembering me (the Lord knows what I REALLY need better than I do).
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Sir, thanx for your response. I would like to understand further: The
7th trumpet announces that the kingdoms of this world are become the
kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and
ever.- Rev 11v15.
In Rev 11v17, as a result of v15 -His reign is here pictured as having begun, that is the consummation has actually come.
How then does that same trumpet begin the Great Tribulation which lasts three and a half years? Sounds incongruous! Don't know if translation has anything to do with it?? Hope this question does not sound stupid! Sorry to bother you.
The Lord keep you and yours. Expecting your response. Thank you sir.
The Day of the Lord is the Millennium . . . but also everything connected with the bringing in of the Kingdom. For that reason the battle of Armageddon is also "that day" as is the precursor of "that day", namely, the whole of the Tribulation period. The Great Tribulation in particular is intimately connected with the Second Advent which brings it to an abrupt end. And so important in prophecy is that three and a half year period that in the book of Revelation it receives special treatment. So for example, after the first two woes, chapter ten is all about looking forward to the second advent, with the strong angel being a type of Christ taking possession of His Kingdom.
The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.
Revelation 10:5-7 NKJV
This previewing of the end of the Great Tribulation is so important for believers who are going to have to live through that most difficult time. Without keeping our Lord's return firmly in mind, who could possibly endure?
"Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."
Luke 21:28 NKJV
After the assurance of the Second Advent victory in chapter 10, chapter 11 tells
us what has been happening with the revival ministry in the first 42 months as
well as its end, then chapter 12 tells us what happens to those who responded to
that ministry and assures us of their safety for the second 42 months. Chapters
13, 14 and 15 then give panoramic views of the next 42 months, with chapter 13
covering the mechanics of the Great Persecution and with the first part of
chapter 14 the martyrdom of the 144,000, the "first fruits" of that persecution.
What happens in the rest of chapter 14 is also looking forward to the end, with
the proclamations of the three angels predicting salvation for the repentant,
judgment on those who follow the beast, and the destruction of Babylon which
does not occur until the Tribulation's final months. The two angels at the end
of the chapter represent the martyrdom of one third on the Church and the
judgment on antichrist's armies at Armageddon respectively (the last of which
events is of course the very last event of the Tribulation). Chapter fifteen
relates to the rest of the tribulational martyrs.
So the fact of the Spirit previewing events does not mean that they are happening at that very time. The Old Testament is filled with prophesy so we should be used to wonderful foreknowledge of what will happen without having to think that it is happening now or not happening at all. And, after all, the book of Revelation's real title is "the unveiling of Jesus Christ" (that is what "revelation", apokalypsis, means) . . . and that will not happen until nearly the end of the book, in chapter twenty at the battle of Armageddon and His return. That is when He takes up His rule.
The book of Revelation is thus essentially chronological, but in order to give us critical details of the very important events that occur in the end times, the Spirit makes use of previews and digressions of the sort that we are all familiar with from scripture and from literature generally.
Also, a better translation for the verse you ask about:
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying, "The world Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ has [now] come, and He will rule forever and ever. Amen."
Meaning, for us believers, it's as good as done, even though we are going to
have to wait a bit longer at that point to be resurrected and experience it.
It's not here yet (even the verse above says that it "has [now] come"; it won't
be here yet when this proclamation is made; but it is certain.
In Jesus Christ who is our hope.
Thanx for the clarification. I will mull over it.
You said that Rev 6v14 and Rev 16v20 are really the same event. How come sir?
I know you won't answer this but: when do you sleep?
God bless you and your ministry abundantly. Thank you sir.
Yes, they are the same event (note the
nearly identical phraseology). In Revelation 6:14, we have the sixth
seal which describes Armageddon and the end (the last judgment); in
Revelation 16:20, we have the seventh bowl which releases the Armageddon
campaign and the events leading to the end (the last judgment).
I think you are a pretty hard worker yourself!
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
Hello sir, thanx for your response. Therefore 6th seal = 7th vial. And
it would be correct to say that the seals, trumpets and vials are not
Does that not mean that the 7th seal is after the 7th vial? Hope my thinking is not too convoluted!
As per sleep: Anyways, I hope you get enough rest. Please don't burn out before the soon coming peak of your ministry! The Lord renew your strength. Amen!
Even though I'm under divine discipline, can you pray that the Lord will clear me in all my cases so as to concentrate on His work? Can you say something about that? Is that a wrong prayer?
Thank you sir.
The seals, trumpets and bowls (vials) are all sequential occurring
during the Tribulation; but the seals give a preview of the trends of
what will happen once the book is opened and the Tribulation (the first
four in particular); so the seals overlap everything in the book,
including the trumpets and bowls. The seventh seal opens the book and
thus begins the Tribulation, so that it is "out of order" in a
chronological respect, but it is a special case, obviously (it opens the
book and sets in motion the other six seal trends). By way of contrast,
the seventh bowl (vial) is the last of the bowl judgments of retribution
and entails a number of things that happen prior to and connected with
the battle of Armageddon and the Second Advent; on the other hand, the
sixth seal embraces the Second Advent and the end of all things. So the
two have points of comparison but they are different things, the seal
being a preview of the most important developments at the end of what is
in the book, and the bowl being the releasing of the actual divine
judgments on the world for following the beast.
We see in the Psalms how that king David was continually asking the Lord for forgiveness and relief and pouring out his heart before Him whenever he was in trouble or under pressure. So that is a sanctified thing to do. Paul asked "three times" for the thorn in the flesh to be removed and only stopped praying about this when the Lord answered him by telling him that "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2Cor.12:9). So I see nothing wrong with praying. Whatever ills befall us and whatever the cause – and whether or not we are right or wrong in estimating all that – the Lord is the One we look to for help and relief in all things. He is the One upon whom we utterly rely, so seeking the Lord while He may be found, calling upon Him when He is near (Is.55:60), coming boldly to His throne of grace (Heb.4:16) is something all believers should do.
"Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."
Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Dear sir, thanx for yours. Will digest and put together in my mind. I know I
should go to God in prayer, I actually meant that: is that the right prayer to
pray under divine discipline?
I still have some questions sir:
At the rapture we meet the Lord in the air/clouds and come back with Him to earth for the Millenium after Armageddon is sorted out.
Where does Rev 7v9 happen? Throne in heaven or on earth?
Where and when does Rev15v2 (glassy sea) happen?
Is there a time we are actually in heaven?
You know when you ask people here "Why are you a Christian", most say: "so I can make heaven". Are we really heaven bound?
God bless you
On prayer, I'm always reluctant to say "right or wrong" because in the Bible I
read many passages encouraging prayer at all times. The better we know the will
of God, the more effective our prayers will be (1Jn.5:14); so spiritual growth
is the key here too – and when in doubt, pray (Heb.4:16).
On Revelation 7:9, the venue is in heaven. This another preview of encouragement given right at the point that the evangelists are sealed, namely, right at the commencement of the Tribulation. This preview shows us that while through the seven years there will be martyrs for Christ, this martyrdom is actually a great victory. It is very appropriate to put this preview here too, because the 144K will be the first installment of those who die in the Great Persecution.
Revelation 15:2 is similar, but there are differences. The glassy sea (now aflame) is the world. This is also a picture of the Great Persecution, but it is portrayed as ongoing with the believers being martyred "winning the victory" for Christ through their faithfulness. Their victory is compared to the victory over Pharaoh at the Red Sea, because, like Pharaoh, antichrist and his army will be completely destroyed and there will be a great celebration on the other side of that deliverance, with the martyrs being given to perform a special song of deliverance (as happened in Exodus too, chapter 15). The placing of this preview is likewise most appropriate, because it occurs at the beginning of the description of the seven bowl judgments, the last of which is the Armageddon campaign, followed by the resurrection (victory and celebration).
"Heaven" refers to the third heaven, the place where the Lord and the Father are "headquartered", so to speak, at the moment. But after the second advent, our place will be with the Messiah here on earth; and after the Millennium, even the Father will take up residence once more on the earth, and our place will be here, on the new earth, that is, in the New Jerusalem with the Father and the Son forever.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Sir, thanks again. I will keep on growing spiritually. I know this won't end
till Christ comes.
Since Rev 7v9 is a preview of encouragement to show that martyrs death is a great victory, therefore we are not physically (if I can use this word) in the third heaven at any time. And Rev 15v2 is also symbolic.
I've had cause to argue this while not fully understanding it. My take has been that at no time are we actually in the third heaven except symbolically. Also excepting those who have died in the Lord of which the martyrs are under the alter in heaven waiting for the full complement of martyrs (Rev 6v9-11). I hope I'm right. I actually pray that I will be among those who join them though God knows how each of us shall glorify Him!
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” (Revelation 15:1)
Does that mean that the wrath has started before now? Or Gods wrath is complete in the execution of just these plagues? Since the plagues before now arewarnings not wrath!
Thanx sir for your time and patience.
God keep and bless you richly.
Yes it's symbolic . . . of an actual event.
When believers die today, they are taken to the third heaven and given interim bodies – better than what we have now but nothing like the resurrection (this is what we see in Rev. chap. 6 and 7; see the link: "Interim state").
On "wrath", this is not a concept but a particular cause of God's anger, namely, His zeal for the way His people have been treated by the beast; this satisfying of His "wrath" will be completed with the completion of the seven bowls. But of course there are still the rest of the "thunder judgments" and also the "last judgment"; so over-working this verse leads to misinterpretation.
The Lord may take us home before all the trouble starts (I'm "of an age" that this is not at all impossible), or He may have us glorify Him through martyrdom; or He may preserve us until the end. There are believers alive today in all three categories. You are right that He knows the perfect way for us to glorify Him, so we will have to wait and see in each individual case just what that is.
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Dear sir, thanx so much for your note. I much appreciate it. Hope you are doing fine. How is family and ministry?
I have been having a lull in activity for a while. My father in law died last
July at 85yrs and we have bin trying to access funds to bury him. (Burials are
quite a big deal here and without compromising ones faith there are a lot of
obligations financially and otherwise) We finally buried him on the 9th of this
month. We were able to meet all obligations and it was successful. He was a
believer though late (Roman Catholic till then)
I have been going slowly through the Peter series, seeing myself naked and entreating the Lord. I have also been attending court cases. (This week is jam packed).
Sir, you remembered me! Thank you. I appreciate all your prayers. The Lord will remember you for good.
I have bin reserving some questions for a while:
We believers are all already "sealed" – by the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:10; 2Cor.1:21-22; 5:5; Eph.1:13-14; 4:30) so no need for sealing during the trumpet judgments.
Is it that the 144,000 were stark unbelievers before they were called? If they were not, why do they need to be sealed? If stark unbelievers, how did they stay as virgins up till their call?
God bless you and your ministry
Thank you sir
I'll be keeping that all in prayer, my friend.
On believers in the Tribulation, that's right. We are already sealed and our sealing is solid and secure. The 144K are called during the early days of the Tribulation by Moses and Elijah to a special ministry so they require this special sealing which marks them out and protects them to be able to do what they are called to do. I expect that they are all rather young men at this point (so the problem raised is not a problem).
As indications of believer protection in the Tribulation, Psalm 90 and Revelation 8 also come to mind (we are praying and the trumpets which include the great Tribulation are answers to OUR/believer's prayers).
Thanks for the update!
In Jesus our dear Savior,
Revelation 4:1 (NASB)
1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”
Maybe you use this argument already (I have read the Coming Tribulation a long time ago and I am only about to re-read it, so I cannot remember), but I wondered if the expression “I will show you what must take place after these things” does not imply chronological order in the messages to seven churches.
Rev.4:1: Yes I do use this – nice catch on your part. In my view, anyone reading carefully can see from this verse as well as Rev.1:19, by which two passages the seven churches are bracketed, ought to be able to understand that they refer to the intervening period of time, i.e., the Church Age.
Revelation 5:9 (NASB)
9 And they *sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
Professor, I wanted to ask you about the textual issue in this verse – whether it should read τω θεω or τω θεω ἡμας. Metzger takes τω θεω as original and best explaining the others. Also in this particular case there seem to be no other best witnesses supporting Sinaiticus. And then if the reading is correct, why is it ἡμ ς instead of ἡμων?
Rev.5:9: The correct reading is ἡμ ν. The ending mistake is probably due to homoioteleuton in the same line (-ας τω θω ημας) where the -ας of the participle has caused the drowsy scribe to write that ending again. Metzger's reasoning is good as to why τω θω is original and why ημα stuck; but he misses the evidence that points to the correct reading which explains the development of the others (ημων changed to ημας). Even Aleph has mistakes; often these were corrected at the time but sometimes they were missed. This is a small, subtle mistake, but it is important (see the link).
Ok, so would the reconstruction of events go as follows:
a) The original reading was ἡμων.
b) This was corrupted very early and changed into ημας through a homoioteleuton.
c) Due to the corruption of the text being early, the correct reading has pretty much not been preserved.
The reason I'm asking is that it is very rare that non of the better manuscripts would preserve what we now consider to be the correct reading.
This happens from time to time in Revelation in particular as many of the witnesses we would expect to weigh in do not have the book of Revelation (Vaticanus notably, and most papyri; also, "C" is very lacunose for the book). So it's not just that some readings are not attested to elsewhere, but that the whole book (or most of it) is missing from witnesses we would like to hear from.
Revelation 9:4 (NASB)
4 They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
NIV SB: 9:4 people who did not have the seal of God. Apparently it is only the first woe that does not affect the "servants of … God" (7:3; see 7:14; 12:17 and note; 13:7). Cf. the Israelites, who were protected from the Egyptian plagues (Ex 8:22; 9:4, 26; 10:23; 11:7).
This seems to contradict what you teach – that believers will not be affected by any of the plagues and judgments? I would assume that believers will not be affected by the judgment plagues, but on the other hand, as I understand it now, it is only the 144000 who are sealed (Revelation 7:4) – and not all the believers?
Rev.9:4: The study note is doubly confused. This verse shows us that those sealed are protected; the Bible doesn't have to say that about every plague. In the Exodus parallel, it's only once or twice that the Israelites are said not to be affected, but we can see from all that transpires and the lack of harm they have suffered when they leave that in fact they were not affected directly by any of the plagues. The same goes for the 144,000. These men are sealed but are not necessarily even believers when they are sealed. They are called to ministry during the Tribulation and protected until the time of their salvation and throughout their ministry until their martyrdom at the commencement of the Great Tribulation. As for the rest of us believers, we are already sealed by the Holy Spirit (2Cor.1:22; Eph.1:13; 4:30: "sealed for the day of redemption" NKJV – which is the second advent and the resurrection) and as such are likewise immune from the direct effects of these judgments. After all, the warning judgments are for unbelievers only, and the wrath judgments are also for unbelievers only. Believers suffer because of the dire conditions of the Tribulation (cf. Jer.45:5) and also because of the Great Persecution – but we can be sure that we believers are not the objects of judgments carried our by the God who loves us, and that He is going to protect us and get us through just as He did the Israelites in the midst of the plagues of the exodus.
Although I knew that the judgments are all meant for the unbelievers, the words "but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads" caused difficulty, as only the 144,000 are mentioned in Revelation as being sealed. The references to the Holy Spirit as the seal are very helpful - can we then draw the conclusion that the Holy Spirit will serve as such a seal for the believers beyond the 144,000?
Yes. It is the Spirit who acts as our seal. The forehead is where marks and seals are visible (Rev.13:16; 14:5; 17:9; 20:4; 22:4; cf. Ezek.9:4), so Revelation emphasizes this just as in Ezekiel. The Holy Spirit's unction is represented in the Old Testament by oil poured on the head which runs down onto the forehead and is thus visible for all to see (Lev.8:12; cf. Ps.133:2). So it goes without saying that believers can be visibly observed as having the Spirit of God – by angels certainly, both elect and fallen. So the sealing of the 144,000 is a special unction of the Spirit which empowers their special ministries (analogous to David and, originally, Saul) but also marks them out as God's property – which is one of the benefits of the indwelling Spirit we believers already have. That is what a seal does, namely, it shows ownership in order to dissuade unauthorized parties from accomplishing mischief in regard to the thing sealed.